During the Great Fast, which ends this week on Lazarus Saturday (Holy Week being, as it were, a fast unto itself of especial strictness), Eastern Christians have been reciting regularly the great prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian with its prostrations.
The prolific pastoral theologian William Mills wrote a charming little book about Ephraim a couple of years ago, and I reviewed it for Logos: The Prayer of St. Ephrem: A Biblical Commentary
About this book, the publisher tells us:
St. Ephrem the Syrian (306-379) is perhaps one of the most prolific Fathers of the Eastern Church, composing four-hundred liturgical hymns and scriptural commentaries, earning him such titles as the Harp of the Spirit and the Pillar of the Church. St. Ephrem is best known for the short prayer, The Prayer of St. Ephrem, which is used throughout the season of Great Lent. The prayer outlines both the sins and virtues of community life: sloth, despair, lusting of power, idle talk; as well as chastity humility, patience, and love for the neighbor. The Prayer of St. Ephrem: A Biblical Commentary provides the reader with the scriptural background to the words and metaphors contained in this short but inspirational prayer. This book is a good resource for either personal devotion or for small group Bible Studies in the parish.
There is still time to order, read, and benefit from this book's great wisdom, and then to store it on your shelf for slow meditation not only during Great Lent of next year, but during the other fasting seasons later this year.