Ephraim was born in Syria of poor parents during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great. He spent his youth rather tempestuously, but suddenly a change took place in his soul, and he began to burn with love for the Lord Jesus. Ephraim was a disciple of St. James of Nisibis (January 13). Due to the great grace of God, wisdom flowed from his tongue like a stream of honey, and ceaseless tears flowed from his eyes. Industrious as a bee, Ephraim continually wrote books, orally taught the monks in the monastery and the people in the town of Edessa, and dedicated himself to prayer and contemplation. Numerous are his books and beautiful are his prayers, the most famous of which is his prayer recited during the season of Great Lent: “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, humility, patience and love bestow upon me, Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.” When they wanted to appoint him a bishop by force, he pretended to be insane and began to race through the city of Edessa, dragging his garment behind him. Seeing this, the people left him in peace. Ephraim was a contemporary and friend of St. Basil the Great. St. Ephraim is especially considered to be the apostle of repentance. Even today, his works soften many hearts hardened by sin and return them to Christ. He reposed in extreme old age in the year 378.
Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume One.
With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Ephraim, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.
At all times didst thou foresee the hour of reckoning, and pricked in thy heart, thou ever didst lament with tears; and, O righteous Ephraim, thou wast a mighty teacher in works and deeds. Hence, O Father for all the world, thou didst rouse the slothful unto change of heart.