Some contemporary halakhic debates about prayer are often couched in language of obligation and time-caused mitzvot. Usually we see such language when discussing the role of women inside the halakhic framework. Wrapped into the discussion of time are "halakhic hours" by which we measure the day, which becomes especially critical when discussion t'fillah. Another language of time exists however, that of sacred time. As we get set to embark on the holiday of Pesach, we will encounter "zmanim" as an important theme of our t'fillah.
In kiddush for the festivals we are sanctifying time. In reciting kiddush we are setting apart time from time. While this is also the case on Shabbat, the words zmanim or moed are not found in the Shabbat kiddush. Furthermore, we identify the festivals as a specific time.
Pesach- Zman cheruteinu (time of our freedom)
Shavuot- Zman matan Torateinu (time of the giving of our Torah)
Succot- Zman simchateinu (time of our happiness)
In other areas of t'fillah we include appropriate seasonal additions, further marking the change of seasons in our prayer, and also in our lives.
Davening when seen through the eyes of zmanim, can help us serve the purpose of marking stages in our year and our lives. It should not be just a halakhic language that gets bandied about. So as you make kiddush and say t'fillot on the upcoming holiday, take a moment to think about what it means to mark time in our davening.