First of all is prayer
The saddest thing of all is that the vain wisdom of this world expects that divine matters are measured with human metrics and standards. Many people think wrongly about prayer, believing that good deeds and a good disposition render us capable of prayer. However, completely the opposite is the case because prayer is the one which has as results good deeds and all the virtues. It is a mistake to think that the “fruits” and the results are the means to obtain prayer. In this way, they underestimate the power of prayer. This is also stressed in the Bible by the Apostle Paul who writes: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made” (1 Tim. 2:1). So what St. Paul said is that prayer comes before anything else. “I urge, then, first of all…” The Christian is bound to perform many good works, but before all else what he ought to do is to pray, for without prayer no other good work is perfect.
From The Way of the Pilgrim
Translated by Dr. Nick Stergiou