The first and last motivation and action of the disciple is prayer. You might say, “I thought the first and last action was ‘love.’ Isn’t that the greatest commandment? Of course you are right. It is. And the way to authentic love as an action is prayer in its essential form and content.
“What is prayer? What is its essence? How can we learn to pray? What does the spirit of the Christian experience as he prays in humility of heart?
All such questions should constantly occupy the mind and heart of the believer, for in prayer man converses with God, he enters, through grace, into communion with Him, and lives in God. And the Holy Fathers and teachers of the Church give answers to all these questions, based on the grace-given enlightenment which is acquired through the experience of practicing prayer – experience equally accessible to the simple and to the wise.
Prayer is the test of everything; prayer is also the source of everything; prayer is the driving force of everything; prayer is also the director of everything. If prayer is right, everything is right. For prayer will not allow anything to go wrong…
What then is prayer? Prayer is the raising of the mind and heart to God in praise and thanksgiving to Him and in supplication for the good things that we need, both spiritual and physical. The essence of prayer is therefore the spiritual lifting of the heart towards God. Th mind in the heart stands consciously before the face of God, filled with due reverence, and begins to our itself out before Him. This is spiritual prayer, and all prayer should be of this nature.” St. Theophan the Recluse, The Art of Prayer, p. 51 & 53
We have a snapshot of prayer as St. Theophan is describing it displayed for us in the Old Testament.
 In the year that King Uzzi’ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.
 Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
 Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
 And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.”
 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6.1-8)
What is more, we have an interpretive presentation of both of these descriptions in the classic, The Way of the Pilgrim.
“…St. Paul clearly states that prayer should precede all actions. ‘First of all, thee should be prayers offered’ (1 Tim. 2:1). The Apostle’s directive indicates that the act of prayer comes first; it comes before everything else. The Christian is expected to perform many good works, but the act of prayer is fundamental because without prayer it is not possible to do good. Without frequent prayer it is not possible to find one’s way to God, to understand truth, and to crucify the lusts of the flesh. Only fidelity to prayer will lead a person to enlightenment and union with Christ… The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness when we do not know how to pray (Rom. 8:26). Consequently, our only contribution toward perfection in prayer, the mother of all spiritual good, is regularity and constancy.” (pg.8)
What then could the Lord be saying in all of this? If prayer is the first thing and love is its fruit, then the event/reality in experience that is prayer is the life-creating and offering encounter of God and man. It is the intersection and dynamic union of revelation and repentance the fruit of which is love in all of its various forms and effects — purification, illumination, and deification. Is this not, in essence, to borrow other words, “the fear of the Lord”?! Truly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning, end, and essence of all prayer, and the beginning and end of all things that concern the life of the disciple — love.