Rashi says that the goal of the hour before prayer was to enter tefillah with koved rosh, i.e., dignity and focus. Attaining this state of mind is no easy feat, especially for a person with a packed schedule. Pausing before tefillah is the mechanism that we use to achieve koved rosh.
Changing places, naturally, causes a degree of disorientation. By the time a person is reoriented, he may have already completed Shemoneh Esrei. Waiting before tefillah in the same place where he will later recite Shemoneh Esrei helps a person to acclimate himself, and ensures that his prayers will be more focused (Rashi, Berachos 30b; Shulchan Aruch Harav 93,1).
Even after arriving at his set place of prayer, a person may still feel disoriented while standing. Sitting down helps one gain composure and focus on the upcoming tefillah that he is about to commence. In order to bring a person to the right frame of mind, Gedolei Torah advised that the pause before prayer should be done sitting down (Rav Chaim Brisker as cited in Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 2,49).
Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org