Pray the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

A classic prayer in Orthodox churches that can help your observance reflect a true Lenten spirit.

Posted in , Feb 27, 2015

Crucifix against the sky

Saint Ephrem (or Ephraim) the Syrian was born around the year A.D. 306 in Nisibis, a Syrian town located in modern-day Turkey.

In some reports, Ephrem's father was a pagan priest, but there are indications that both of his parents were (at least later in Ephrem’s life) Christians. Ephrem was baptized as a young man by Bishop James of Nisibis.

He lived in a period when churches were suffering great persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. He became highly respected in his hometown, but later fled with other Christians to Edessa, where he continued teaching.

St. Ephrem wrote prolifically. He composed more than 1000 poems and hymns, earning him the name, “Harp of the Faith.” He composed sermons in metrical form, and wrote commentaries on the Old Testament and on Paul’s Epistles. He died in Edessa in A.D. 373 while ministering to victims of the plague.

He is most famous today, however, for “The Prayer of Righteous Ephrem,” which continues to be used during Lent by Orthodox Churches. It is considered to be the classic Lenten prayer, used in all weekday Lenten services in Orthodox churches and several times a day in private prayers during Lent.

It is traditional, when praying the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem, to kneel–or prostrate yourself, face to the floor–at the end of each verse, rising again to recite the next line of the prayer, and repeating until the prayer concludes.

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

However you choose to pray this prayer–several times a day, like our Orthodox brothers and sisters, or daily, or simply once a week or one time during Lent–it can help your observance this year reflect a true Lenten spirit.

Tags: Prayer,Lent
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