Better to do nothing, than anything without Prayer.

Comment: Just as before work of any kind, it is always and ever the Orthodox praxis to pray before reading the scriptures, before reading anything, including and especially the Fathers, or hearing any kind of presentation or discussion. This is to avoid self-deception, the delusions into which listeners and speakers and readers are drawn, which are wrought by pride, the other passions, and the Evil One. As with eating, it is better not to read than to read and not pray – better not to listen to any discussions or speakers than to listen without praying. God forbid we should ever begin to read the fathers or discuss anything we’ve read without a prayerful beginning, seeking humility, peace, concord, and deliverance from every vanity. This is the advice of all fathers who have written on the subject, is the most ancient practice of all Orthodox, Christ being the prime example. It is likewise appropriate to pray at the conclusion of anything. [See also the previous posts on the Celts, by whom we see that to do anything without the Holy Trinity, is folly.] – (from a recent discussion)

Some prayers Orthodox Christians have found useful:

Before Lessons: Most gracious Lord! Send down upon us the grace of Thy Holy Spirit to grant us intelligence and strengthen the powers of our soul, that we may attend to the instruction given us, and grow up to glorify Thee, our Creator, to gladden our parents, and to serve the Church and our people. In the Name of the Father… — (from the old Jordanville Prayer Book)

After Lessons: We thank Thee, our Creator, that Thou hast granted us Thy grace to attend to this instruction. Bless our parents and teachers who are leading us to knowledge of good, and grant us energy and strength to persevere in our studies. In the Name of the Father… — (from the old Jordanville Prayer Book)

Before Reading the Holy Scripture: Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. — (this prayer is also read by the priest before reading scripture in the Divine Liturgy) – from the OCA web site)

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