I was visiting a convent on the weekend, and on Monday morning's service the nuns fully prostrated themselves about three times, then did numerous half prostrations. I assumed they were praying the prayer of St Ephraim. Please excuse me for this basic question, but 1) are they doing the full prostrations when praying this prayer, 2) and how many prostrations do they do, 3) and how many half prostrations do they do, and 4) what are they praying when doing half prostrations?
Excellent questions you ask (as Yoda would say).
The practice prescribed for the Prayer of St. Ephraim is as such:
- Read the prayer once, making a full prostration after each section of the prayer for a total of 3.
The following two items are prescribed only for weekdays of Lent, not for Sunday Vespers.
- Make 12 bows (half-prostrations), each time reciting this prayer: "O God, cleanse me a sinner and have mercy on me."
- Read the prayer of St. Ephraim again, this time making only one prostration at the end.