Prayers for finals

Here’s a collection of prayers from various sources that might give you some peace of mind during exam season.

Always remember: study hard, pray harder!

Come, Holy Spirit


Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

-Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.

-And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.  O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant us in the same spirit to be truly wise and to ever rejoice in His consolation.  Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer Before Study

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Creator past all telling, you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom the hierarchies of angels, disposing them in wondrous order above the bright heavens, and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.  You we call the true fount of wisdom and the noble origin of all things.  Be pleased to shed on the darkness of mind in which I was born, the twofold beam of your light and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.  You make eloquent the tongues of children.  Then instruct my speech and touch my lips with graciousness.  Make me keen to understand, quick to learn, able to remember; make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.  Guide my going in and going forward, and lead home my going forth.  You are true God and true man, and live for ever and ever.  Amen.


St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess.  You have given all to me; to you, O Lord, now I return it; all is yours, dispose of me wholly according to your Will.  Give me only your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.

Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the path to peace.  Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

For the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Saint Bonaventure (1217-1274)

Lord Jesus, as God’s spirit came down and rested upon you, may the same Spirit rest upon us, bestowing his sevenfold gifts.  First, grant us the grace of understanding, by which your precepts may enlighten our minds.  Second, grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness.  Third, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the Enemy’s attacks.  Fourth, grant us knowledge, by which we can distinguish good from evil.  Fifth, grant us piety, by which we may acquire compassionate hearts.  Sixth, grant us fear, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good.  Seventh, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love. Amen.

God be in My Head

from The Sarum Primer (1527)

God be in my head and in my understanding.  God be in my eyes and in my looking.  God be in my mouth and in my speaking.  God be in my heart and in my thinking.  God be at my end and my departing.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663) is considered the patron saint of those taking exams.  How did he gain that title?  Let’s just say he got supernaturally lucky when it came to exams.  Click here for a more complete biography.  What follows are two prayers to the saint, imploring his intercession,

First Prayer

O Great Saint Joseph of Cupertino, who while on earth did obtain from God the grace to be asked at your examinations only the questions you knew, obtain for me a like favor in the examinations for which I am now preparing.  In return I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.  Through Christ our Lord.

Second Prayer

O Saint Joseph of Cupertino, who by your prayer obtained from God to be asked at your examination the only preposition you knew, grant that I may, like you, succeed in the ____________ examination.  In return I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.  O Saint Joseph of Cupertino, pray for me!  O Holy Ghost, enlighten me!  Our Lady of Good Studies, pray for me!  Sacred Head of Jesus, Seat of Divine Wisdom, enlighten me!

Poetry has a role in prayer, so for those who like to express themselves in that way, I offer these two:

Lines Written in Her Breviary

St. Theresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Let nothing disturb thee,

Nothing affright thee;

All things are passing;

God never changeth;

Patient endurance

Attaineth to all things;

Who God possesseth

In nothing is wanting;

Alone God sufficeth.

Lead, Kindly Light

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,

Lead Thou me on!

The night dark, and I am far from home,

Lead Thou me on!

Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou

Shouldst lead me on,

I loved to choose and see my path; but now

Lead Thou me on!

I lived the garish day, and spite of fears,

Pride ruled my will.  Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still

Will lead me on.

O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till

The night is gone.

And with the morn those angel faces smile,

Which I had loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,

Thyself hast trod,

Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith.

Home to my God.

To rest forever after earthly strife

In the calm light of everlasting life.