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I understand that the phrase "May the Force be with you" functions as a statement of goodwill. What's unclear to me is whether that's all it is or whether it has any innate power (for want of a better word) of its own. Does saying "May the Force be with you" mean that the Force actually will be with the person you're saying it to - more than it would have been otherwise? In other words, does the phrase itself change anything with the Force or is it just a polite way of saying goodbye?

Specifically, are there any canon examples of individuals having greater Force sensitivity as a result of the saying? Or of the Force causing their endeavors to prosper because it was "with" them (i.e. it was on their side)? Is it impossible to judge whether or not wishing the Force to be with someone makes any difference?

If the phrase does connote favour or greater affinity with the Force then it may explain its wide usage amongst the Jedi and the Rebellion.

Does the phrase alter anything or is it just a trite sign-off?

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    Does saying Godspeed do anything? To quote Han, That's not how the Force works! – Gallifreyan Dec 27 '16 at 10:44
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    @Gallifreian. Yeah, but since when did Han understand the Force? :) – The Dark Lord Dec 27 '16 at 10:47
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    @TheDarkLord - presumably somewhere between him becoming close with a certain Force-sensitive princess and her Jedi brother, up to the point where he had his Force-sensitive son undergo Jedi training. – Gallifreyan Dec 27 '16 at 12:16
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    Obi-Wan says to Luke - "the Force will be with you...always" - so, saying it doesn't seem to matter if that's the truth. Then again, Kenobi is a lying liar face... – NKCampbell Dec 27 '16 at 17:03
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    Growing up in a traditional Lutheran church, I always had the urge to say "and also with you" whenever I heard characters on Star Wars say "may the force be with you". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preface_(liturgy) – Paul Omans Jan 6 '17 at 15:39
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We don’t know

We’ve seen various people use this phrase throughout the Star Wars films and books. Crucially, most of the people who say it don’t have any particular Force powers, so they aren’t likely to be influencing the Force directly. If it works, it’s because the Force is listening.

The main issue is that it’s next to impossible to conclude from the information we do have that this benediction resulted in more favorable outcomes for its recipients. Consider, for example, Chirrut Imwe from Rogue One. He chants “The Force is with me and I am with the Force” (a similar phrase), then walks slowly, unarmed, across a chaotic battlefield, and turns off a switch:

“I am one with the Force,” he said again, “and the Force is with me.” The words echoed inside him. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.

Baze yelled his name from the bunker. Chirrut did not stop.

He felt hot bolts whip past him, heard leather gloves squeeze metal triggers, and turned his body as if shouldering his way through a crowd. He tapped the heel of his staff, feeling his way toward the console by the traces of buried cables. He listened for telltale echoes, where the noise of the battle resounded off terminals and equipment.

He did all this without thinking. The art of zama-shiwo, the inward eye of the outward hand, attuned his breathing and heartbeat to his chant. It was his chant that guided his motions, controlled his pace as he strode forward. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Was the Force with him, because he improbably walked across a battlefield and did not die? Was it with him, because he accomplished his objective of flipping the switch? Was it not with him, because immediately after flipping the switch, he was hit by a blaster bolt and killed?

Ultimately, it’s impossible to say whether saying “May the Force be with you” works, because we have too few examples, and those that we do have are generally a mixed bag of success and failure. All we can say is that the phrase expresses the sincere wish that the Force be with the recipient. Whether the Force takes that into account is unknown.

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This is all speculation, so bear with me.

I always thought it was like saying "good luck," literally: "may the Force be on your side." Literally, of course, the Force is always with someone, but the Force's "actions" do not always help you. Obi-Wan's use of "The Force will be with you always" sounds like a blessing, not some kind of magical spell.

The fact that non-Jedi use it may indicate that it doesn't actually do anything involving the force.

Jedi use the power of the Force to do things, but they cannot control the Force. Control of the Force in making it be with a person is a lot of power to have, which is not something that Jedi are usually able to do. It sounds like a Sith thing, and as far as I remember no Sith has ever said it.

In the 7 films, the quote has been used 16 times. According to the same link, the first two people who say it are General Dodonna and Han Solo. Obviously they aren't using the Force as they say this. In the entire original trilogy, it is said once by a Force-sensitive person: Luke says it in V. He has no way of knowing that he should do anything more than just saying this. Obi-Wan, who is known for this quote, says things like these (also from that site):

"The Force will be with you... always."

"Luke, the Force will be with you."

"Use the Force, Luke."

"Remember, the Force will be with you always."

He says them to Luke, who then proceeds to use the Force to blow up the Death Star. This may indicate that they are used alongside the Force to help out Luke. However, a few things stand against this being the answer to your question. Luke would've used the Force, to which he was very sensitive, to destroy the Death Star. So the use of the phrase probably didn't do anything. The fact that the quote may have been inspired by religion which uses it as a kind of goodwill quote, together with the fact that it was originally mostly said by non-force sensitive people, makes it probable that the phrase doesn't have any kind of Force-connotation.

  • This compilation video helps break down the usages. – The Dark Lord Jan 6 '17 at 14:24
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    Here, it's also serving as a reminder (to Luke) that there is another power out there and to remember to focus on and rely upon that power. So, more than just a gesture of goodwill. – user31178 Jan 9 '17 at 9:42
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The phrase itself is from science fiction. However, the meaning can be implied to be a nice way of saying Good-Bye. Good-Luck, May you be protected, and Come back safely are also implied to be a part of this. Every time you hear this phrase, it fits these definitions. Usually said at the end of a conversation, and always with good intentions. If only we had an easy, 1 line way to say the same thing, and didn't reference a movie!

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** I'm not looking to debate whether or not God is or isn't real. Believe what you want to believe and be good to people**

I don't think the force is orderable as in bends to your wishes and will to protect whoever you want. I think "the force be with you" equates to "bless you" in the real world. The person saying it isn't actually 'ordering' God to look after that person but their sentiment is I hope he's watching out for you, I wish you good luck. It presumably carries more weight if you're saying it to someone who also believes in God/the force and will be comforted by your saying.Like how Han Solo says "the force, Jedi it's true all of it" he's seen Luke use it to do something but so asking it to look after him or Leia would be encouraging but actually ordering it to do things for others doesn't seem possible. In Rouge One when Donny Yen is walking through the battlefield saying to himself "I am one with the force and the force is with me" I thought of it as as praying as he clearly believes in the force and would have seen it's usage on Jeddah but not that the force was being ordered by him per se but he was strengthened/courageous by his belief it was looking out for him. I view people praying as, if it makes them feel better and they're harming no one it can't hurt anyone.

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I agree with everything from the "This is all speculation" answer. The only thing I think that might help you to choose it as your best answer (that I could not fit into a comment) is this:

I feel like you have to consider what the force is to really answer this. Though I am not an expert and there could be some canon I do not know of that makes my theory irrelevant...

Obi Wan once said something like "The Force is all around us, it binds us and penetrates us." This means that the Force is like a giant pool that the entire universe has been dipped into (maybe kinda like string theory or something). So it is everywhere connecting everything together. When a Jedi uses the force to move an object he taps into this network and the "force molecules" connect him to the object like a string. Similar connections happen when they pass messages between them, throw force lightning, and etc.

The ability to tap into this network differs greatly among the individual. With Anakin we learned about midichlorians (which I think we all hated?) and that seems to be the grading scale for how well an individual can tap into the network. Han Solo likely has very little in his system, but because the force is all around connecting everything it does not matter. It is everywhere connecting everything already. Your ability to tap into the network is what determines the "strength" of your Jedi action. You can not "pass on" your energy to another Jedi like a Spirit Bomb in Dragon Ball.

So saying may the force be with you is just words. It may bolster the individual's personal connection to the force, but that would be all inside that individuals head helping them tap into their own ability. It is literally the equivalent of saying "Peace be with you" or whatever in a religious aspect. That individual saying it is not doing anything spectacular themselves, but inside your own mind if you have been doubting yourself or something it may boost your confidence and make you feel as though you have a better shot at whatever it is you are about to do.

I would also add that for the answer about Rogue One when the blind guy says "The Force is with me and I am with the Force" that is just him bolstering himself. That is his thing. I am sure that we have all done something similar at some point playing video games or taking a test or whatever telling ourselves "I got this, I got this." It is personal reinforcement. It also helps that you see things before they happen with the Force and that meant if he needed to he could dodge out of the way and change the future... Thankfully Storm Troopers were all really good shots in this movie again and that blind guy walking across the field of battle had no chance...

Usually I do a TLDR, but I don't think that really works here as I am just supporting another answer...

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