The Lord’s Prayer is familiar to many, if not all of us. Even those who are not regular churchgoers likely recognize the opening, “Our Father who art in heaven…”. This Prayer holds a special place in the Communion liturgy of the church. Around the year 600, Gregory the Great added the Lord’s Prayer to the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. In this way, this Prayer is a conclusion and extension of the Words of Institution and the prayer that surrounds them. In this place, the words “our daily bread” are clear allusions to the bread of Holy Communion.
As we know, the Prayer comes to us from Jesus and, as many have noted, covers the length and breadth of the human condition. The Prayer’s end-of-time focus, “thy kingdom come” is reflected in the sense that the meal of Holy Communion is both something in this world, and something of a sign for the time when God’s world is fully realized and all things join in celebration with God.
Generally, one of two statements direct us into the Prayer. The first, “Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray …” echo the words of one of the men crucified with Jesus [St Luke 23:42]. The other, “And now as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say …” remind us of the source of the Prayer, that these words come from Jesus and it takes real boldness – courage, even – open ourselves to the world these words will lead us toward.
There is no one standard English translation of the Lord’s Prayer. Our own hymn book suggests two translations. The one most familiar to most [and the one we tend to use] dates to the 1789 American Book of Common Prayer.