The Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord of my life, take away from me the spirit of laziness, faintheartedness, ambition and idle talk. But grant me rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love. Yes, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own sins and faults and not to judge my neighbor, for you are truly blessed forever. Amen.
This prayer, composed by the great Father of the Church Ephrem of Syria, is recited from Monday to Friday throughout Lent after each liturgical office of the Byzantine rite of the Church. It is a prayer of great antiquity and is highly treasured in the Eastern Church. Saint Ephrem was a monk and a deacon, refusing like Saint Benedict to be ordained to the priesthood because of his profound humility.
Saint Ephrem’s prayer is called “the Lenten Prayer” because it encompasses the true spirit of Lent. It is like a check list of the virtues we ought to strive for during this holy season. The emphasis is on repentance and humility, the two essential elements of true conversion. In the practice of the Eastern Church, the prayer is accompanied by a deep bodily prostration after each petition. The prostration, besides being penitential, is symbolic of the repentance in which we hope to grow during Lent. After the last prostration, the prayer of “O God, cleanse me from my sins” is repeated twelve times. The faithful repetition of the prayer, three times daily throughout the forty days, sustains us in our daily efforts to work out our personal conversion. The prayer slowly grows in our hearts and helps create within us the necessary climate for true and humble repentance. I often think of Ephrem’s prayer as a mirror, wherein we can look at ourselves honestly, with all of our daily failings and shortcomings, and yet take courage to continue the journey because we trust in God’s loving mercy.
Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette, OSB
Blessings of the Daily ~ A Monastic Book of Days
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