In another one of his stories, Maulana Thanvi tells us about the state of our salah in this time.
People were praying Asr with jamaat at one masjid when the Imam forgot the number of raka'ats he'd led. After finishing the namaz, he turned around and asked the muqtadi's if they could tell him but no-one had any idea. The Imam was obviously angered at the chronic inattentiveness of his congregation and was chiding them when one man stood up to say that he remembered, and it was three rakaats that had been read. 'Ah! One true servant of Allah we have here' said the Imam, pleased 'how did you know?'
'err...' the man began 'You see, I have four shops and for Asr, I go over the days dealing of each one in each rakaat. This time, I'd only done three when you sat down and finished the namaz. I still have one more shop's accounting to do!'
After this Maulana Thanvi offers a solution for the problem that blights the salah of nearly all of us - lack of khushoo'.
He says that when a hafiz is forgetful in his recitation, you will find that he reads with full concentration whenever he is called to relay from memory. Nothing is on his mind apart from the actual words he is reciting because he is so careful to avoid a mistake. We can apply this to ourselves in salah and read the words as if we have just newly learnt them, and may make a mistake. When our mind is occupied with this, all other thoughts will not enter, and slowly khushoo will be attained.
Another method is to memorise the meanings of each word we read, and keep them in mind as we say each sentence, keeping a medium pace (as opposed to the sprinting that our tongues are accustomed to). We will realise that we are actually addressing Allah in the words that we use and this thought should be enough to rectify our waywardness.
Maulana Thanvi mentions a friend of his who went to Turkey to visit the then Sultan of the Ottoman dynasty. When he entered the compound he saw that the window of the Sultan's room opened out to where he was walking, and it struck him that the Sultan could be watching. This thought compelled him so much that he was unable to lift his gaze again, nor start looking around and taking in the beautiful scenery. All he thought of was to look respectable in front of the Sultan, in case he was watching.
Maulana comments that at the mere possibilty of a King watching us, we are so awestruck and yet we know for sure that Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, is watching us in Salah, but we still indulge our minds in frivolous thoughts and fiddle and scratch and do whatnot during it.
One last thing, nobody is pretending it's easy, but we should not stop trying. If a thought comes to our head, we expel it and if it comes again we expel it and again the same. Even if we do not achieve a thought-free salah, as long as you don't succumb to them, Allah will reward you insha Allah .