The great teachers of the spiritual life throughout the centuries, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, have been agreed … that the first step in prayer has always been what they call ‘Recollection’. There is a sense in which every man when he begins to pray to God should put his hand upon his mouth. That was the whole trouble with Job … He felt that God had not been dealing kindly with him, and he had been expressing his feelings freely. But when … God began to deal with him at close quarters, when He began to reveal and manifest Himself to him, what did Job do? … He said, ‘… I will lay mine hand upon my mouth’. And, strange as it may seem to you, you start praying by saying nothing; you recollect what you are about to do.
I know the difficulty in this. We are but human, and we are pressed by the urgency of our position, the cares, the anxieties, the troubles, the anguish of mind … And we are so full of this that, like children, we start speaking at once. But if you want to make contact with God, and if you want to feel His everlasting arms about you, put your hand upon your mouth for a moment. Recollection! Just stop for a moment and remind yourself of what you are about to do.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, pp. 51-2