The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Admin in Teachings, Triodion and Great Lent

O Lord and Master of my life, Take from me the spirit of sloth faint-heartedness, lust of power and idle talk. (prostration)
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to thy servant. (prostration)
Yea, O Lord and King grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; for Thou art blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen. (prostration)

The prayer is prayed the first time through with the prostrations, joining body and soul in the prayer for deification, and then 12 metanias are made with the words, "God, cleanse me (a) the sinner." Thereafter the whole prayer is said again, making one prostration at the end. The repetition is meant to help us get the prayer inside of us so that we can truly think it through and begin to make a start in applying it to our lives.


This prayer is at the heart of our Lenten efforts, summing up for us what is at stake during our Lenten struggles: our healing from our sin-sickness.

The Beginning of the Prayer: Christ is the Great Physician of our souls and bodies. It is to Him then that we address this prayer, focusing our full attention with renewed vigor throughout Lent: “Lord and Master of my life...”

The Negative Objects of Repentance

Sloth/Faint-heartedness: The first petition of the prayer goes to the heart of our sickness—SLOTH. It is in our slothfulness, our lethargy or faint-heartedness to do battle against our temptations and delusions that keep us from progressing in our deification.

Lust: If God is not Lord and Master of my life, then I am. I make my desires, my ideas, my judgments and not those of Christ and His Church the center of my world and will. Lust is fundamentally a sin of selfishness with self-satisfaction at its heart.

Idle talk: Man’s speech, say the Fathers, is the ‘seal’ of the image of God in each of us because God Himself is revealed to us as the Logos (the Word).

The Positive Objects of Repentance

Chastity: The brokenness of our existence and relationship to others, our sin-sickness, is no where better seen in our sexual depravity, “the alienation of the body from the life and control of the Spirit,” as Fr. Schmemann puts it. Chastity means ‘whole-mindedness.’

Love: love is “the fruit of all virtues” and can be given by God alone who IS love. True love is selfless and God-focused.

Pride: Pride is the source of all evil. If we are looking to the faults of others to judge them, we are guilty of the sin of pride. This is the sin of the Pharisee.

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