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May the Force be with you was a phrase used to wish luck, generally when individuals parted ways or the object of the expression was facing some sort of imminent challenge. The phrase implied the speaker's wish that the power of the Force would be working alongside the addressee, in order that the addressee's goals would be more effectively accomplished.
It was first known to be used as a formal "'goodbye' and 'goodluck" among Jedi, and members of the Jedi High Council often recited it after assigning missions to their Jedi Knights. After the Great Jedi Purge it was adopted as a similar premartial 'goodluck' as a show of the ongoing struggle against the Galactic Empire and admiration for the Jedi Order after their failed attempt to survive the corrupt Emperors power struggle.