The Lord’s Prayer “is the pre-eminent prayer of the Church. In the daily Church services, it is recited sixteen times, during Great Lent twenty-two times” (in monastic practice).1 In the Divine Liturgy, we find the Lord’s Prayer in the portion of the service called, “the Liturgy of the Faithful”: that portion of the Liturgy that comes after the catechumens have been dismissed. In contemporary practice, catechumens are allowed to remain in church for the remainder of the Liturgy. But in the ancient church, the catechumens actually left the service, so they did not hear the Lord’s Prayer. It was a prayer reserved for the faithful (this was also the case with the Creed). Jesus gave the prayer to those closest to him, his disciples. In a like manner, it was a given to catechumens at their baptism when they, too, drew near to Christ.
In the Liturgy, the Lord’s Prayer is the last prayer that we say before the Eucharist. The priest asks, on behalf of all, that God would make us worthy! to come before him with boldness and without condemnation as we call on him in this intimate prayer. We address God Himself as a familiar friend and ask for “our daily bread:” in this instance, specifically, the Body and Blood of Christ. And that through our union with Christ in the Eucharist He will endow us with divine grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit: that we will be delivered from all that is dangerous to us, that our sins would be forgiven, and that we would receive the strength of soul and body that we need to live lives that glorify God.
Some of us learned the Lord’s Prayer as little children, others later, and some may be encountering this prayer for the first time. Regardless of which category we belong to, it is necessary for any Orthodox Christian to understand the theological and doctrinal importance of this foundational prayer, for Jesus commanded his disciples, saying, “Pray then like this” (Matt 6:9; Luke 11:2).