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Do you have a big exam coming up? These prayers before studying can
help you focus on doing well, with God’s help! Maybe you’re taking the
SAT, GRE, GED, LSAT, MCAT, or some other standardized test. Or perhaps
just you’re just studying for a history quiz at school. Whatever the
case, it never hurts to ask our Lord for His grace and guidance before
you hit the books.
He can help steer you through the fog of anxiety and distractions so you can concentrate on your work. Two of these prayers before studying also ask for help from another powerful and loving source: our Blessed Mother!
This first prayer comes from a 1916 Catholic prayer book. The lofty language employed here centers in at its end to our most essential task. Passing the “exam” for Eternal Life!
Incomprehensible Creator, the true Fountain of light and only Author of all knowledge: vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, to enlighten our understandings, and to remove from us all darkness of sin and ignorance. Thou, who makest eloquent the tongues of those that want utterance, direct our tongues, and pour on our lips the grace of Thy blessing. Give us a diligent and obedient spirit, quickness of apprehension, capacity of retaining, and the powerful assistance of Thy holy grace; that what we hear or learn we may apply to Thy honor and the eternal salvation of our own souls.
The second one has a more contemporary feel:
Holy Spirit, Giver of all good gifts, enter into my mind and heart. Give me the gift of knowledge and the grace to use it wisely. Help me in all my endeavors. Give me perseverance and fortitude. Help my memory, that I may remember what I learn and recall it when necessary. Guide me in the classroom. You who are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, let me not be deceived by false teaching. Our Lady of Good Studies, pray for me. Amen.
And, finally the third of our prayers before studying was composed by the “Angelic Doctor,” one of the Church’s greatest theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). His writings, such as his celebrated Summa Theologica, provide essential commentary and teachings about our Catholic faith.
When St. Thomas first attended the University of Paris, his quiet manner and heavyset frame earned him the nickname “the Dumb Ox”. Yet his teacher and mentor, St. Albert the Great, upon seeing his amazing memory and grasp of detail, said famously “we call him the dumb ox, but one day he will emit such a bellowing in his teaching that it will be heard throughout the world."
Note in this prayer as well how Aquinas appeals to Mary, “the mediatrix of grace” as St. Alphonsus Liquori called her, to help him receive the grace of the Holy Sprirt. St. Thomas honors, not worships, our Blessed Mother with his petitions.
O Mary, Mother of fair love, of fear, of knowledge, and of holy hope, by whose loving care and intercession many, otherwise poor in intellect, have wonderfully advanced in knowledge and in holiness, thee do I choose as the guide and patroness of my studies; and I humbly implore, through the deep tenderness of thy maternal love, and especially through that eternal Wisdom who deigned to take from thee our flesh and who gifted thee beyond all the saints with heavenly light, that thou wouldst obtain for me by thy intercession the grace of the Holy Spirit that I may be able to grasp with strong intellect, retain in memory, proclaim by word and deed, and teach others all things which bring honor to thee and to thy Son, and which for me and for others are salutary for eternal life. Amen.
Remember the key element in all three of these prayers before studying: calling on God (as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary) to help you succeed! You don’t have to feel alone at your desk. Keep in mind as well that whatever the outcome, you’ll at least know did your best for God by sincerely seeking His help and preparing thoroughly for your test with the help of His grace. Good luck!