During our Great Lenten Journey, nothing is more obvious than the quiet and humble atmosphere of the Church during the Lenten Services. As I mentioned in The Rhythm of Great Lent the physical atmosphere is an important detail during Great Lent. It isn’t all about candles and incense. That would limit the journey to solely external issues. It would ignore the importance of quiet and humble prayer that fills the dark and incense filled Church.
The worship services of the Church during Great Lent, both those on Sundays and during the week are different in character. Our prayers reflect upon our profound need for God in our lives. We dwell upon the longing for our soul to be united with God, while remembering that without God’s grace our soul is lost. We call for God’s mercy, not as from a courtroom judge, but a merciful God who loves us despite our failings.
The prayer that I believe characterizes Great Lent, more than any other, is the Prayer of Saint Ephraim. It is included each morning and evening and includes multiple prostrations. I invite you, if you haven’t learned this prayer, to take a moment and memorize its words. Don’t stop with just the words. Internalize the words and make them your own. Begin and end each day offering them up to God from the depth of your heart. Here is the prayer…
Lord and Master of my life, take away from me the sprit of laziness, idle curiosity, lust for power and vain talk.
Give to me the spirit of moderation, humility, patience and love.
Yes, Lord and king, grant that I may see my own faults and not judge my brothers and sisters, for You are blessed unto the ages or ages. Amen