For Eastern Christians, the liturgical season of “Great Lent” is punctuated throughout with the ancient prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian. Ephrem was a holy and devoted hermit who lived in the 4th century and composed a variety of prayers and hymns to God.
One of them has been used by Orthodox and Byzantine Christians for many centuries during penitential liturgies. In particular, it is used during weekday liturgical services of Lent, and many believe it perfectly summarizes the spirit of Lent.
The prayer begins by asking God to take away various sins, replacing them with corresponding virtues. This is a very important part of Lent, as Lent is not a season entirely focused on purging oneself of sins, but should also bring a person closer to practicing virtue.
St. Ephrem also asks God to reveal his own sins, while not judging the sins of others. Lent is a time for interior renewal, when we do not seek to change others, but only to change ourselves.
Below is a popular English translation of the prayer, which was originally written in the Syriac language.
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.