Our Life in Christ

The Prayer of St. Ephraim

Our Life in Christ

Steven Robinson and Bill Gould of the archived “Our Life in Christ” podcast present a six-part series on the Prayer of St. Ephraim.


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  • March 17, 2006
    We continue our discussion of Great Lent by reviewing, with many quotes from the Church Fathers, the famous Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian that is used during all the weekday services. Writing in the 4th century, St. Ephraim's hymnography captures the Spirit of the Lenten Season and has been a vital standard for the Orthodox Church ever since. In its simplicity and penetrating quality we learn that we are at once helpless and in need of God's grace to overcome our sinful nature, and yet must also pursue repentance and the virtues in faith continually, to be both emptied and filled.
  • March 23, 2006
    We continue our discussion of the famous Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian and his plea for God to remove from him the "lust for power" and "idle talk". As is made clear from the sayings of the Fathers cited here, these sins are so well-rooted in our normal, everyday lives that raising our self-awareness regarding how and how often we commit them is a significant Lenten undertaking.
  • March 28, 2006
    St. Ephraim begins the second half of his great prayer "Give rather a spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant." Asking God to take our sinful passions away is followed by a petition to give us virtue, chastity being first in the order. In the Fathers, and especially St. John Climacus, we find that the virtues (which are in truth the energies of the Holy Spirit) act in our heart and are active through us through the deeds of the body surrendered to Christ. And chastity, rather than being limited to some quaint notion of sexual purity (true enough), is the virtue of wholeness in Christ which enables us to fight the passions fervently.
  • April 7, 2006
    Following Chastity in the the list of virtues in St. Ephraim's prayer comes Humility. Reading from the Fathers, we find that humility is not merely a state of mind, but a mystery that comes about as the result of labors of the soul and body, mirroring the Incarnation itself, and so it is by nature incomprehensible. We look at humility and its opposite, pride and prelest. to try to gain even just a little more understanding of this virtue and why it is central to our life in Christ.
  • April 14, 2006
    We finish this Lenten series discussing the virtues of patience, love, and not judging our brother. Again, the Orthodox axiom of working out the virtues in the body is true, and we learn that patience is not merely a passive state, but also requires spiritual/bodily effort to restrain evil thoughts/actions, choosing to perform God's will instead. Love for God, neighbor, enemies and the whole of creation is our aim, cultivated with our growing awareness of God's pure and captivating eros coming down from heaven. Engulfed in this love we lose interest in the world and adopt the humble mind of Christ, whose words on the Cross, "forgive them for they know not what they do," are to become our own towards all men.
  • March 9, 2006
    O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust for power and idle talk.
    -Lenten Prayer, St. Ephraim the Syrian

    The Lenten Season, or the Great Fast as the Church calls it, comes each year as part of the Paschal celebration. It is a forty day fast, a time of preparation during which we come face to face with ourselves in the light of extraordinary prayers and insights into our spiritual condition, given as only the Orthodox Tradition is able. Here we discuss Lent, the school of repentance and what God intends for us by it.

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