The Prayer of Saint Ephrem (Adapted)

O Lord and Master of my Life,
take from me the spirit of
sloth, faintheartedness, 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 sins
and not to judge my brother
for Thou art holy
unto ages of ages.


Forgive me a sinner!  A blessed Great Lent to all of you reading this as it is posted.

The prayer of Saint Ephrem is so central to our observance of Great and Holy Lent. We hear it multiple times during the special weekly services and many families (including ours) use it during their daily prayer time. My older children (6 and 8) have memorized the prayer, but have they really understood and taken to heart the meaning and spirit of this small and mighty prayer?

Do they know what they are praying?

As we pray it I have been trying to add in the definitions to help, but I thought it was worth a quick poll to see if this has actually been helping. When I asked my kids what each term in the prayer meant these are the responses I got: (Note: There are different linguistic versions of the prayer but all have the same meaning.)

Sloth – laziness (6 yo), not paying attention to others (8 yo)

Faintheartedness – having a stone heart, not very loving (6 yo), not thinking about others (8 yo)

Lust of Power – really like yourself and you think you are the best (8 yo), thinking that yourself is the best (6 yo)

Idle Talk – worshiping someone idle (6 yo), talking and hurting people’s feelings, saying things that other people might not like (8 yo)

Chastity – Wisdom (6 yo), being so wealthy that you can give to the poor (8 yo)

Humility – not thinking yourself is the best (6 yo), being humble or thinking of everybody else and not yourself (8 yo)

Patience – when you can wait without complaining (8 yo), when you wait until the other person is ready (6 yo)

Talking about opposites can be helpful. 

Sometimes it can be especially helpful to think of what is the opposite of the behavior and character our Lord God wants from us. We sometimes play with opposites of the fruits of the spirit (hate, despair, anger, impatience, What is the opposite of idle talk? — thoughtful talk, lazy talk, anything that isn’t true, helpful AND kind (see this prior post about this)

What is the opposite of humility> —- Pride

As a family we worked together to come up with alternative terms to use in the prayer while we are taking its message to heart and came up with the following:

Sloth —-> LAZINESS

Faintheartedness —-> WORRY

Lust of Power —-> WANTING TO BE THE BEST


Chastity —-> SELF-CONTROL

Humility —-> OBEDIENCE AND GENEROSITY (this is a hard one to define in one word for kids)

Patience —-> PATIENCE (self-explanatory – especially in our home where I am constantly openly petitioning God for more patience)

Focus on NOT judging anyone:

For our most concrete thinkers and really for all of us laypeople the reminder to not judge our “brother” can feel non specific. So we play with adding in the many people we want NOT to judge (see below). Perhaps this will be helpful for your family too.

So for this Great and Holy Lent we will be using this adapted prayer – keeping much of the same ancient and familiar prayer language that we so cherish in the Orthodox faith.


O Lord and Master of my life,

take from me a spirit of

laziness, worry, wanting to be the best, and thoughtless talk.

But give rather the spirit of

self-control, obedience, generosity, patience, and love to thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King,

grant me to see my own sins

and not to judge my brothers, sisters, parents, family, friends or neighbors,

(add in your own important people here)

since thou art Holy unto the ages. Amen.

Wishing you a fruitful and faithful Lenten season.

In Christ’s love,


About Sasha Rose Oxnard

Sasha Rose is an Orthodox Christian and a mom. She also happens to be a family doctor, a wife, friend, daughter, amateur gardener, lover of music, dance, art, animals, nature and all things playful. Now adding blogger and writer to the list. She currently lives, works and prays in New England with her husband, four small children, dog, 2 cats and 5 chickens.

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