A man with a handheld microphone stands at the front of the room. Behind him, the wall is cast with lilac lights. He’s Taylor Figgins, the community life coordinator at Hope West Side, a church located on 86th Street and Central Park West. 

“Let’s stand and pray the Lord’s Prayer together,” he says in a soft voice.  

The room of about 25 people shifts and every single person stands to recite the prayer. The creaking of chairs and brushing of coats and bags echo in the room as they do this. Some lift their bibles or their notebooks from their laps with them. Once standing they turn and lean down to place the books on the seats behind them. They bow their heads and close their eyes. Many clasp their hands together, while others open their arms out in front of themselves to “open themselves up to Jesus.” There are two screens at the front of the congregation, one on each side of the room. The words to The Lord’s Prayer appear on each one. The crowd recites it quietly in unison, some from memory and some reading off the screens.

Hope West Side is a progressive Evangelical Church established in 2018. The churchgoers recite the Lord’s Prayer at the same moment at every service: right before the sermon. 

“We pray the Lord’s Prayer as a way to connect our Hope West Side church community to the generations of believers who have prayed this prayer since the beginning of the early church,” said Park.

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.”

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

Figgins says each phrase gently, taking time to pause in between each one. As they recite the prayer, one word is louder than all the rest. Everyone says Amen with certainty. This closes out the prayer and they all sit down to listen to the pastor’s prepared sermon.

This prayer is from the New Testament in Matthew 6:9-13. In this passage, Jesus explains to the disciples how they should pray, and recites this prayer as an example. The last line comes from newer versions of the bible and church tradition, whereas the rest is from the ancient text. 

“It gives us a template for how Jesus wants us to pray,” says Pastor Mike Park, who sits in the front row. He says the prayer with his head bowed. “We could also say it’s the prayer that is formulated by God for us, while most of our prayers are formulated by us for God.” 

He views this prayer as a point of connection between all Christian denominations.

“It’s also one of the oldest recorded Christian prayers and is common to the different streams of Christian faith: Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic,” Park says. “So it’s one of the prayers that we can usually pray together regardless of church background or tradition.”

For some believers, the prayer serves as a point of connection between themselves and God, one that they feel can and should be made often. 

“There are many seasons where I will pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly several times a day, pausing at each line to think through the truth of that part of the prayer,” says Park.