Reflection on the Prayer of St. Ephraim

During Great Lent, one of the chief prayers that work to strengthen us is the Prayer of St. Ephraim. I share with you a couple of personal thoughts about the prayer and how it can impact our lives.

The opening words of the prayer establish our relationship with the Lord. By addressing Him as the ‘Master of my life,’ we openly admit to ourselves that God is greater than we are. We are not His puppets, but willingly follow Him. As our master we must willingly follow what He demands of us, especially if we call ourselves Christians. The key word is willingly. We accept Him as our God and in so doing realize that we do not have all the answers and that even if we try, we cannot make ourselves greater than Him.

In the second line of the prayer, we ask Him to strengthen us, not by letting personal behaviors hinder our growth in relationships; with God and with others. Rather, instilling within us traits that will promote growth and understanding. The traits that hinder us cause us to fall away from God and each other. They are traits that inhibit relationships because they focus attention on self or destruction of others; laziness, meddling, lust for power, and meaningless talk. We ask God, calling ourselves His servant, to give us positive, caring traits for self that will only allow relationships with the Lord and others to blossom, prudence (discretion), humility, patience, and love.

As Orthodox Christians we are connected to one another, we are community, we are family. This interconnectedness, at times, requires us set aside our own self-interests in order to benefit our brothers and sisters. For many, this becomes very difficult to do. There are other times that we are called upon to take leadership positions or make decisions. In so doing we cannot allow the responsibility of decision making to create a misplaced sense of pride and authority.

The prayer closes by asking God to give us the ability, the discernment, to see our strengths and weaknesses in a balanced manner. Finding balance is important in our lives because it allows us to accomplish more than we could imagine. We cannot build up ourselves by focusing on the errors or faults of others, but by forgiveness. In this prayer, then, we find the fullness of our relationship with Christ and with one another. The hope to seek forgiveness and the ability to forgive and by striving for both we experience the love of Christ.