This 4th-century prayer that comes from St. Ephrem the Syrian helps to rid ourselves of spiritual disease.
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 ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)
O God, cleanse me a sinner. (To be repeated 12 times with as many bows).
In his book Great Lent: A School of Repentance, Its Meaning for Orthodox Christians, the Orthodox scholar and theologian Alexander Schmemann explains that this prayer “enumerates all the ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ elements of repentance and constitutes a ‘check list’ for our individual Lenten effort. This effort is aimed first at our liberation from some fundamental spiritual diseases, which shape our life and make it virtually impossible for us even to start turning ourselves to God.”
The prostrations make the body become part of prayer, thus restoring it to its true function as “the temple of a priceless human soul.”
“The whole man has fallen away from God; the whole man is to be restored, the whole man is to return. (…) For this reason, the whole man — soul and body — repents. The body participates in the prayer of the soul just as the soul prays through and in the body. Prostrations, the ‘psycho-somatic’ sign of repentance and humility, of adoration and obedience, are thus the Lenten rite par excellence,” writes Fr. Alexander Schmemann.
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