The Lord’s Prayer and Praying Before Meals

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Caucasian, Irish
Age: 50
Occupation: Head Pastor
Residence: Oregon
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/19/21
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Intro

The following is a folk-tradition that was told to me by the lead pastor of my church. He is a non-denominational Christian pastor and is a caucasian male. I found out about this tradition of his when asking him about any folklore that his family may have had. We met at a local coffee shop in our town where I recorded the story. This is a direct transcribed script of what was said in the story, with the various “umm’s” and “uhh’s” omitted.

Prayer

“We would say the Lord’s Prayer at every meal and that did seem weird to me, but we would just do that. And that was something my dad did when he was a kid.

‘Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power are yours forever, Amen.’ 

And then, we didn’t do this, but I remember some of our friends would do the cross thing after they finished the prayer, *physically motions from head to chest, to the left and then to the right.* They do that in Serbia. When we lived overseas they would, Serbians would go forehead and then to the chest and then left and then right.  Croatians, who are catholic, would go down and then right and then left. We have no idea why, their cross symbol would just be the opposite, but it would still be the cross symbol. We used to do another prayer before every meal and it was always the same prayer. At least this sentence would have been in it. They might have been longer but I remember this sentence, and I still say it, it’s just like embedded in me. ‘Bless this food to our bodies, in Jesus’ name, Amen.’ I can’t remember a meal that we didn’t pray, one, and that phrase wasn’t in the prayer. Every meal that we had together we would do that.” 

Analysis

I am not sure how much you know about The Lord’s Prayer in the Christian faith, but from what I have heard over the years is that they are always slightly different. My pastor’s prayer was slightly different in the line “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” I have heard many things also said in this line, things like “and do not bring us into the time of trial.” Another odd feature I have noticed with the lord’s prayer is that some parts are just omitted in some households. Why? I do not know, but I do know some people will only say up until the “on earth as it is in heaven.” I think it was interesting that my pastor said this before every meal and also included another prayer on top of that one, one that was made up on the spot by the family but always featured that line at the end. I know this prayer and praying, in general, is an important part of my pastor’s life because of his place in the Christian church. While the Lord’s Prayer is explicitly said in the bible itself (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4), I find it most often learned from parents and not just memorized from the bible. This leads to different forms of the prayer as it evolves through generations. The last line, “For thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power are yours forever” is also commonly not included in the prayer, as it isn’t in the Luke version of it. I also thought the cross thing that they do in Serbia and Croatia was interesting and included it even though his family did not do it. That is another piece of the Lord’s Prayer, finishing with making a cross from your forehead to your chest, that is sometimes performed and sometimes not.