O Lord and Master of my life, the spirit of idleness, of meddling, of love of power, and of idle words, grant me not.
But the spirit of continence, of humility, of patience, and of love, do thou grant unto me thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to perceive mine own offenses, and not to judge my brother; for blessed art thou unto ages of ages. Amen.

I’d like to finish our look at the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian today, but first a brief review of what we hear in the first two sentences of the prayer.

We begin by asking God not to grant us, or not to tempt us (like in the Our Father) with – idleness (incapacity for spiritual labors), meddling (undirected hyperactivity), love of power (hunger to control), and idle talk. Then, we ask God to grant us a spirit filled with – chastity (self-control, moderation), humility, patience, and God-like love.

The 3rd and final sentence of the Prayer of St. Ephraim is the culmination of what Great Lent is all about. “Grant me to perceive mine own offenses”—let me see myself the way God sees me. And not just see, but also understand what my state of sinfulness means. The Father’s say that to see ourselves as we really are is the greatest miracle, greater even than raising someone from the dead. So we pray for the ability to see ourselves as we truly are—and only when we can honestly look at ourselves in our sin can we begin to achieve the mind of Christ. And as we’ve seen through the first two sentences of the Prayer, we’re asking to be preserved from the mind of Satan, and to be filled with the mind of Christ. So we pray to see ourselves as we truly are, “and not to judge my brother.” Seeing ourselves in our sin leads naturally to not judging others. On what basis are we judging another when we see ourselves (in the words of St. Paul) to be the worst among sinners? We’re typically so quick to judge and to blame others, this really is one of the characteristics of our society—we’re have this trend of blaming anything but the person for their actions. In the Christian mindset, we’re always to blame – one of the results of our free will is that we bear the responsibility of all of our actions. In humility and patience and love for our brother we always accept the blame, and we’re called to never judge another.

And this is really the point of everything we to do for Great and Holy Lent—to soften ourselves, to make ourselves receptive to the grace of God, so He can show us where we are and how to move to where He wants us to be. And we praise Him already in the prayer for the grace we know will come during the Great Fast – “Blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages, Amen.”

So as we continue to pray this Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian over the course of the next weeks, I encourage us to really think about the words we’re saying. When we offer our prayers, we can’t do it mindlessly—we have to enter into the prayer as much as possibly can – we’re called to pray with understanding. So I encourage us to meditate on the things we’re praying to be kept from, and praying to be given—and in doing this that we’ll begin to see ourselves in the way that Christ sees us.

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