The “Prayer of St Ephrem” is ubiquitous during Great Lent, and is used in all weekday services, and say the St Ephrem prayer twice a day at home, during the week!
The prayer is said two times, one time in parts, and the last time in full. After each part, or the entire prayer, a prostration is made. In between the two “O God cleanse me a sinner” is said twelve times, with a bow each time. This is easy to remember after doing it a few times. Two prayers, four prostrations, twelve bows.
“O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talking give me not.“
“But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me Thy servant.“
“Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.“
Then, twelve repetitions of:
“O God, cleanse me a sinner.”
And then repeat the entire prayer all at once:
“O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talking give me not. But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
A Prostration is a full bow to the ground with the knees touching the ground, and the head touching or near the ground, then immediately standing back up. As the bow to the ground is begun, the sign of the cross is made. Some people touch their knees to the ground first and then bend their upper body down, and the more athletic or coordinated essentially “fall” forward to the ground with their knees and hands touching at essentially the same time. This is very similar to the familiar gym class “burpee”.
A Bow, also known as a “reverence” or “Poklon” is when the sign of the cross is made, while simultaneously bowing the head by bending at the waist. Some bow deeply and touch the ground with their right hand, and other make very shallow bows. It really does not matter as long as the movement is done with attention.
Something NOT TO DO: No “waving at the air”. Some do prostrations and bows quickly or carelessly, and the sign of the cross they make looks like they are shooing away a fly. “Let all things be done in good order”.