Of Thee’s and Thou’s

KC Kern Mormon 31 Comments

From the earliest days of primary, latter-day saints are taught that the proper pronouns to use while praying are “thee,” “thou,” “thy,” and “thine,” and that the common “you,” “your,” etc. are disrespectful and should be avoided. When we turn to the scriptures, we see that “thee” and “thou” are used freely, and we come to associate the words with religious settings and appeals to deity.

I spent my childhood growing up in Europe, and I attended a nice little ward in francophone Belgium. In French, there are two 2nd person pronouns, “tu,” and “vous,” the first used singularly to those with whom you are well acquainted or are similar in age or younger than you; the second is used plurally (think “ya’ll”) or singularly to those with whom you are not well acquainted or who are clearly in a superior social position (boss, teacher, etc.)

With “vous” being the pronoun associated with respect, one would naturally assume that it would be the preferred pronoun to use in prayer, but that is not the case. “Tu” is the proper pronoun to speak to God with, the rationale being that it denotes closeness and familiarity.

The paradox stuck out like a sore thumb for me. In English, I was supposed to pray using words that were distant and reverential, yet in French I was supposed to pray using the same words I used with my schoolyard buddies.

Much later, I came across the New International Version of the Bible. I was aware that it didn’t use “thee” or “thou”, and the introduction explains:

As for the traditional pronouns “thou” “thee” and “thine” in reference to the Deity, the translators judged that to use these archaisms, along with the old verb forms such as “doest”, “wouldest” and “hadst” would violate accuracy in translation. Neither Hebrew, Aramaic nor Greek uses special pronouns for the persons of the Godhead.

From my readings of Shakespeare, I knew that “thee” and “thou” were part of the vernacular of the Elizabethan age. “You,” “Your,” and “Ye” were also part of the common man’s vocabulary (and also appear in our scriptures) but they referred to a plural second person (again, “ya’ll”). So thou/thee was singular, you/ye was plural. As Christianity was defining itself as a monotheistic faith, it would seem entirely appropriate that they would use the singular pronoun in reference to God.

Flash forward to our modern times, and the words aren’t used the same way. You/your has come be to used for either singular OR plural second person, and thee/thou (and “ye” for that matter) has been phased out completely. Conversely, in French, “vous” was originally exclusively a reference to a plural second person, now has come to be used either for plural or a respectful singular. Thus is would make sense that “tu” was the traditional prayer pronoun: it was the one congruent with monotheism.

The grammar of our scriptures is a relic of ages long gone, yet modern readings of old texts tend to project the biases of the modern settings into how the text is interpreted: We note that Jesus never uses “you” when speaking to his father, and we follow suit. Thus, through time, the words “thee” and “thou” morph into a elements that have far different lexical impact than they did originally.

This isn’t a bad thing, words change all the time. Now, “thee” and “thou” have indeed come to signify a sense of dignity, properness, and respect, and, that being in line with the attitudes we wish to have when praying, they are appropriate to use in our modern setting.

Dallin H. Oaks eloquently confirmed this, when in his 1993 talk entitled “The Language of Prayer,” he said:

“In our day the English words thee, thou, thy, and thine are suitable for the language of prayer, not because of how they were used anciently but because they are currently obsolete in common English discourse. Being unused in everyday communications, they are now available as a distinctive form of address in English, appropriate to symbolize respect, closeness, and reverence for the one being addressed.”

Aware of the historical disconnect and the archaic translation, I was very refreshed to hear from a General Authority that we do not use “thee/thou” because we’re following some scriptural precedent or historical example, but rather because that is how our current and modern interpretation of these old words has defined them.

I recently took a humanities class (at BYU) where we read “Confessions of Augustine,” an important piece of the Early Roman Christian era. In it, Augustine begins each chapter with a prayer. The pronouns in the prayer were all translated as “you” and “your.” One student in the class raised his hand and asked the professor how Augustine could have the audacity to be so disrespectful in his prayers, and why couldn’t he use “thee” and “thou” like he’s supposed to. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I wish I could have quoted another segment of Dallin H. Oaks’ talk, where he said:

“We should also remember that our position on special prayer language in English is based on modern revelations and the teachings and examples of modern prophets. It is not part of the teachings known and accepted by our brothers and sisters of other Christian and Jewish faiths. When leaders or members of other churches or synagogues phrase their prayers in the familiar forms of you or your, this does not signify a lack of reverence or respect in their belief and practice but only a preference for the more modern language. Significantly, this modern language is frequently the language used in the scriptural translations with which they are most familiar.”

So, I’m fine with one and all using “thee” and “thou” in prayers, as long as we understand and acknowledge why it is we do it. For newer members or children who can’t quite get it, I’m sure God won’t invalidate their prayers if they say “you.” And as for me, if the “thees” and “thous” get tiresome, I can always just pray in French.

Comments

comments

Comments 31

  1. I don’t think that Heavenly Father cares one way or another how we address him in prayer. If He doesn’t care, why do we? I use thee and thou because of tradition. This is what I was taught when I joined the church and this is the habit I’ve gotten into. But, when you think of it, it is pretty absurd. All this custom does is give us one more reason to look down upon our fellow saint or fellow neighbor who “prays in the wrong way.” We ought to get away from this custom altogether. I think I’ll start the change in the church by using “you,” “yours,” etc., in all my future public and private prayers… Thanks for the post.

  2. Makes you wonder why the BOM translated in the 1800’s would use the same language as a Bible translated in the 1500’s. Thee’s and Thou’s were not the true language of the 1800’s. So does that mean that th language of heaven is elizibeethan english? I personally think it would be Hebrew and Aramaic.
    We have to remember that the English Bible IS a translation. The original books are in greek, hebrew and aramaic. So for true accuracy at the time of translation you need to use the language of the day, not a dialect from the past.

  3. When I was serving my mission in Portugal, we discussed this a fair bit, and came to the rather strong conclusion that the tu/vos distinction in that language was rather important, since vos is decidedly a plural referent, and that has implications that are theologically uncomfortable.

    That said, the real question is more about the sincerity and attitude of the person saying a prayer. If you consciously modify your prayer language simply to tick off or put social pressure on others, I think you are being just a bit of a hypocrite. On the other hand, modifying your prayer language in order to attempt to form your thoughts a bit more clearly and come closer to God is a good thing, and I applaud that effort. Heavenly Father, I think, is much more concerned with our inner attitude and wishes than any of the actual language we use when praying. We are, after all, presuming to attempt communication with the Divine. How can the actual language matter at all, other than as a method of directing our own attention? If prayer can be said to be heard by Heavenly Father, then our actual vocal words cannot possibly matter one whit, thus it must be some other form of communication. Thus, the words themselves are of no importance.

    So, pray in your heart, focus your mind, and let your gratitude to God be more evident. If you need words for this, fine. I think it is good to express them, and to share these feelings with others (spouse, family, etc) from time to time, but let us not confuse the outward behavior with the intended effect, because what we are attempting is impossible with merely spoken words (scientifically speaking), and must therefore rely on our immortal spirits.

    Or have I erred somewhere?

  4. “One student in the class raised his hand and asked the professor how Augustine could have the audacity to be so disrespectful in his prayers, and why couldn’t he use “thee” and “thou” like he’s supposed to.”

    Youth really is wasted on the young.

    I use “thee” and “thou” in my “formal” prayers (the ones I offer for a group) and “you” and “your” generally in my private prayers. It just seems to fit the occasions better that way.

  5. “Thee” and “thou” are fun! I like speaking that way.

    Fun aside, “thee” and “thou” were originally informal address. Like French, they are cousins of the German “du”, and their verbs are conjugated similarly (with -st). Using a slightly different language than the norm to address God makes it more personal, intimate and special to me. It sets aside a verbal “sacred space” in which to have my most sacred discussions.

  6. I thought about this same thing as a missionary in Germany. German has the same mechanics of pronouns and also conjugation of verbs based on social relationship to the target of your speech. Germans who pray use the familiar (Du Sprache) and not the formal (Sie Sprache) to encourage a feeling of closeness to God.

    Another interesting cultural note: Korean Mormons do not fold their arms when they pray. I was also a Korean linguist in the Army, and was stationed there for a year. Folding one’s arms is a cultural sign of defiance towards one’s social superior (i.e. God). They do not follow the American LDS cultural habit of telling their children to fold their arms when they pray.

    I agree with the others who stated God probably doesn’t care much about your speech or body language. It matters what’s in your heart.

  7. I appreciate the “thees and thous” and why their use is expressed in this piece.

    Many Mormons tend to think this was the way they spoke in the 1820’s, and that is not the case.

    Alas (to use a similar toned word), Merci pour votre patience et j’espere que vous comprendez ma francais apres huit anees.

    Salut!

  8. respect, closeness, and reverence

    Elder Oaks seems to want it both ways. Respect and reverence warrant Sie-sprache, closeness warrants Du-sprache. For me, the former outweighs the latter. When I use thee and thou, I feel like I am using Sie-sprache. Why should German (other European) members get the unambiguous closeness, while I have to wade through the respect and reverence?

  9. It’s interesting, too, when the associations of the foreign words change between cultures. For instance, in Brazil the pronouns tu and vos are archaic and respectful, as in English. In Portugal, they’re the common parlance, yet in both places are they the lingua franca of LDS prayer. Maybe in Brazil they should keep using what they’re using, and in Portugal they should switch to a more respectful form, like o senhor or, maybe, o Deus, “God” in the direct second person.

  10. Speaking French and Spanish, I’ve always been troubled too by the use of what is actually familiar language which I learned was used with family (which has a sweet intimate connotation) and pets and servants (not so much =o).

    As to Elder Oaks’ explanation, it reminds me of Lewis Carroll in “Through the Looking Glass”:

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

    But we do it because we do it. I had to get over that a long time ago. ::shrug::

  11. I think the LDS emphasis on “thee” and “thou” is an anachronism that may disappear at some point. My perception is that for much of the rest of the Christian world, there was a similar emphasis on “thee” and “thou” in prayer and scripture until around the 1950s and 1960s, and that it was the more “liberal” and less “traditional” churches that switched to “you” in the 1960s or 1970s. That is about the time I recall directives from SLC to use “thee” and “thou”, which would keep our Church more on the traditional end of Christianity in references to God. But now, most of even the most politically conservative evangelicals and, I believe the Pope himself (leader of one of the most, if not the most, traditionalist Christian faiths) uses “you” instead of “thee” and “thou”.

    On the other hand, our “thee” and “thou” emphasis may be akin to our aversion to crosses, which, as I understand largely derives from the lack of crosses in Protestant churches at the time of the Restoration and of our move to the west. The rest of Protestantism changed, but we stayed the same, and the absence of crosses has become a point of pride and differentiation.

    And so, I think at some point it is possible that “thee” and “thou” may well become part of the “special language” only of LDS prayer in English. In other languages, we will continue to use whatever is generally considered the second-person language of prayer currently (rather than in earlier years) in that culture.

  12. I like what Ben (3) said a lot.

    To get fussy about “proper” or “correct” words to address God in prayer is to construct a virtual “rameumptom” by which to pleasure ourselves and/or others with our piety. Or it is to subscribe, perhaps unintentionally, to magical and self-centered thinking: believing that uttering words in a certain way binds God to perform actions on our behalf, to grant our wishes. Prayer, in public, is a chance to attune with God and subordinate the individual identity within the greater communal identity. Prayer, in private, is the opportunity to humble ourselves before God, and seek to attune ourselves to His will.

    I think fussing over what word choices makes us more familiar and intimate with God, or respectful and exalting, and which is the right word set for use when, misses the point. Familiarity with God is fine, but I think to make it our litmus for a “correct” relationship with Him speaks more to cultural preferences for creating God in our own image. I see Oak’s justification for outdated English as a special and unconventional way to intimacy with God speaking to this same allure of creating Him in our parochial image. Whether it is “LDS style” prayer or “Evangelical style” prayer it misses the point to advocate a familiar relational standard of us to God. Who cares which words, old forms or new forms, we use, really??

    If we are not seeking unity and subordination to His will, then all we are having is a familiar and intimate feeling, albeit still self-centered, relationship with God. The invitation is to become God-centered, Kingdom-centered, church-centered, humanity-centered. We can aspire to this ideal through familiar or honorific language, old or new language forms, through public and private action. And, like the Psalms so wonderfully portray, we can aspire to that ideal whether we define our relationship with God as Creator/creation, like a mutual lover, like a Master to servant, as subject to King, or as parent to child.

  13. I live in Germany, and when I visit my family in the U.S. it’s so strange to pray in English and go back to the formal. I love to pray in German where I address Heavenly Father as I would a friend.

  14. I kind of go both ways on this subject. I am comfortable to use the Thee’s and Thou’s and like the formality of the language when speaking to heavenly beings. Yet, when we are told to think our Our Heavenly Father and Jesus in a personal way, it seems distant. But we also capitalize their names when used in written form.

    On the other hand, having recently heard praying in other Christian Church settings, I am uncomfortable with it on two levels. It seems almost too familiar, that they are telling God/Jesus things, that They, for sure, already know and it sometimes feels like they are lecturing God and Jesus. And of course, they generally pray directly to Jesus, which I find somewhat ironic, because then they turn around and recite the Lord’s prayer where the Savior instructed us how to pray.

  15. Makes you wonder why the BOM translated in the 1800’s would use the same language as a Bible translated in the 1500’s. Thee’s and Thou’s were not the true language of the 1800’s.
    Um, maybe because JS was trying to make it sound like scripture?

    I have always thought that the church continues to use thee and thou as another aspect of our uniqueness and separateness from traditional Christianity, just as DavidH likens it to our lack of using the cross as a symbol.

  16. Hmmm… I always was told that thee and thou were both respectful and intimate. The kind of language that might be used for a wife or sweetheart, or a beloved family member.

  17. Thee or thou were used as terms to talk down to the commoners, or from the common among the common, familiar to the familiar. Commoners would never reciprocate to talk back “up” to someone of higher stature, like an aristocrat, noble or a king. Either way you can make a case today for the terms being inappropriate and out-of-date, no longer fitting the stratified, reverential ideal that many hold up as the relational standard of person toward God. You can also make the case for them fitting modern usage of the familiar ideal to which many cling to define their relationship with God — even if it is really hard for many to use the terms with proper conjugation and grammar being out of date language and all.

    It still begs the question for what purpose are we praying: to humble ourselves before God and embrace our communal identity? To cause God to take action on our selfish part? To express piety or blessedness above others? To fit Him into a single, ideal relational mold? Or as Jeff Spector said, as a way to lecture God and Jesus?

  18. You pointed out, “vous” is a respectful AND distant way to address someone. The catholic church having been the main christian church forever in the french speaking countries they have set this “vous” way to address God as the only propoer way to pray thus setting us appart and making us “weird” to people ecountering the church for the first time. People saying “tu” to God appeared as “free thinkers” or “rebels”. This along with the fact that we don’t have set prayers and that we can say anything to God has been a great missionary tool some time ago.
    Yet, with the multiplication of protestantisme in France we are close to look more and more “straight” and “narrow minded”. Kind of funny ;o)

  19. Long hair on men at church, paisley shirts on deacons, taking the sacrament with the left hand, “you” addressed to Deity, feminine trousers in the chapel — none of those things are intrinsically evil, and any of them could occasionally occur without anybody but a hopeless BYU student batting an eye. But whenever somebody deliberately choses to say/wear/do something specifically because “THEY want me to X so I’m going to prove my independence by doing Y,” he is deliberately trying to shock or rebel or draw unworthy attention to himself. That’s not so good, and in some cases *could* be intrinsically evil. For crying out loud, there’s nothing wrong with doing what is expected when you don’t have a better reason than rebellion for doing otherwise.

  20. I kind of like Elder Oaks recasting of the use of “thee” and “thou,” etc., and do not have the energy over it that Anarchist and Alice seem to. Nor do I agree with Last Lemming that you cannot feel closeness, respect and reverence at the same time. But, it is worth noting that Elder Oaks statement would not work for Spanish speakers, who in my experience always pray in the “tu” form. It makes me wonder how the Spanish translation of Elder Oaks statement reads . . .

  21. Banned (20): I’m totally with ya. Of course, it is tougher in practice because we are not always clearly self-aware of our deliberateness and intentions, nor are our intentions always singular and consistent when we are aware of them. And those zigging are usually willing to consider those zagging as rebels until proven otherwise. But the common denominator must not always be to zig.

    If only the matters of Christian liberty, doubtful disputations, and the relationship of the “weak” and “strong” of Romans 14-15 were more familiar dialog among the Latter-day Saints, there may be more charity in variety.

  22. Pastafarian (15) Um, maybe because JS was trying to make it sound like scripture?
    I know this post isn’t about this, but I thought js dictated word for word what he was shown!?!

  23. I love those quotes by Dallin Oaks I think illustrate the principle behind the language of prayer, and obviously that will have a different manifestation in different cultures and languages. There is not a right or wrong but recognizing the limitations or built in elements of our language and how that translates into our worship and relationship is fascinating. I remember how eye-opening it was to learn to converse in another language and how the structure of the language, particularly with these issues of addressing others, influences the flavor of the relationship. Everyone should have that experience to step out of their own language.

  24. Why not pray in hebrew or aramaic for that matter? I find the whole thing distracting. I like praying to God in my native tongue, modern english. No one really does the “thee, thou, thine”, very well. Sentences like ” I wouldst do whatever thou whouldst havest me” just seem a little off. Maybe we could all read more Shakespeare and practice up on it.
    I grew up in south america and spoke spanish there. Praying in the familiar in spanish is comfortable and intimate. Praying in old english feels stilted and uncomfortable. It’s not that I want to be annoying or disrespectful, I just want to remove all artifice and distance. To me that means speaking to God using you not thee. I hope we switch to modern english. The Lord does not care whichever way thou dost choseth it is the contending over it with our bretheren that is the sin. 3rd Nephi chapter 11, vs 38-40.

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  26. Just some extra information- “you” wasn’t just plural. It was plural/formal (think “vous” in french”). Through overuse (everyone tying to flatter who they were talking to) it became the normal and only way to refer to the second person.
    I agree, “thee” and “thou” in Mormon prayer seems contradictory and confusing. It’s not a faith-shaker though. If men’s confusion around 2nd person pronouns has mixed things up, it doesn’t bug me.

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  28. I’ve just given a talk about the things we do that put up unnecessary barriers to being able to communicate the gospel to people in a clear and pure way that reflects our beliefs and blundered into this minefield, so I really appreciate this dialogue. The more I think about it the more completely ridiculous this decision to create a pharisaical tradition for the sake of it seems. The logical outcome is that Tudor English should be part of our curriculum and we should all have to teach it to our children…and hey presto I found an article in Jan 1976 Ensign called ‘The Language of Formal Prayer’ that gives you exercises to help you do just that! It is impossible to read it through without by the end realising how completely nuts the whole thing is. A good test of a true principle is that it holds up as logical and helpful in all situations, and this doesn’t hold up for long. We are meant to be about the future of religion, not the apostate past with its obsessions with special language and keeping up appearances mattering to your salvation. The Roman Catholics used exactly the same justifications for insisting that services, prayers and reading the Bible occured in traditional Latin, their ‘sacred language of prayer’, even though like Tudor English it was a language that ordinary people had not spoken for centuries, and we teach people that this was one of tha major crimes of the apostacy as it distanced people from God and kept them in ignorance. Yet we are being asked to perpetuate the same idea for the same reasons when we pray! We are so used to it we hardly notice as people massacre and contort English into some messy imitation of how peasants spoke in Cambridge 5 centuries ago, but anyone from the normal world coming to our meetings expecting the modern, relevant and living gospel we have promised them must think we’re stuck in some weird timewarp. I recently prayed with colleagues from other denominations and habitually used thees and thous and afterwards one commented that he didn’t realise Mormons prayed like 17th century Quakers. He was right. It was bizarre and didn’t help our credibility in his perceptions of us at all. This habit is a real barrier between intelligent potential investigators and the gospel, a stumbling block, and Paul was very clear about how stumbling blocks that prevent people from other cultural norms simply had to go and how he changed his habits and traditions and language to make sure he was on the same wavelength as his teaching pool wherever he went. We are in a similar struggle to the one he had convincing the nostalgic Jewish General Authorities to jettison unnecessary traditions like circumcision in what they required of gentile converts to Christianity. Elder Oaks contradicts himself repeatedly in his article, which is surprising for a lawyer, and ends with the comment that of course what matters to God is that we do pray, not the language. If that’s really true, why even begin confusing everybody by saying that English speakers have to use a silly version of a dead language to pray sincerely and respectfully? I think it’s patronising and mocks God, implying we believe that how we say things to Him gives us more power over him, and that we define what is sacred language through a mixture of habit and random chance to do with when your language’s translation of the Bible was made. I can’t imagine many less sensible reasons for a doctrine or recommended practice for how we speak to God. As someone else commented, it’s rebuilding the whole exclusiveness concept of the Rameumptom that is the opposite of what the Restored gospel is meant to be about. So it won’t last. It will probably take a while as the GA’s will need a bit of distance from such an emphatic statement before they can drop it, but meanwhile I have stopped playing the childish game. It’s clearly not a true doctrine that we need worry ourselves about observing, more a nostalgic habit as Elder Oaks clearly describes given unwarranted significance by repeated usage over time like all pharisaical and unhelpful traditions that encrust and slow the efficiency of the Church’s work and confuse the clarity of its message to the world. I can’t imagine anyone exercising Church discipline against someone because they don’t say things like ‘We thank thee for the blessings that thou bestowest upon us’ when they pray! It just wouldn’t stand scrutiny. So why waste a moment giving prescriptive instructions about this to old or new members, or making it an issue when we have so many far more important things that really are doctrines to learn and put into practice?

    1. ” We are so used to it we hardly notice as people massacre and contort English into some messy imitation of how peasants spoke in Cambridge 5 centuries ago, but anyone from the normal world coming to our meetings expecting the modern, relevant and living gospel we have promised them must think we’re stuck in some weird timewarp. I recently prayed with colleagues from other denominations and habitually used thees and thous and afterwards one commented that he didn’t realise Mormons prayed like 17th century Quakers. He was right. It was bizarre and didn’t help our credibility in his perceptions of us at all. ” – Peet’s ^

      When I went to a LDS church for the first time with my now husband on a sort of “second date” (I was very curious growing up only in baptist churches in the south) this is exactly how I felt. For me the time warp was even more apparent in the hymns. I have now been a member since 2010, feeling the Spirit so strongly of course was all needed to know this is where I belonged. I have ‘Sing Me A Scripture’ in my mini van and listen to it almost everyday, and the hums have grown on me…Today we had this discussion in a combined meeting and some of the older members were quoting Elder Oaks from 1976. Someone said this type of pretentious behavior only scares away newer converts and I tend to agree with him. To me using thee and thou is pretentious and you are having to put more effort in to sound a certain way versus being sincere and using your heart to guide your thoughts and prayer.

      “To pray is to speak with God, the Eternal Father of our spirits—not at Him but with Him. He loves each of us perfectly and is full of mercy and understanding. He knows everything about us. He knows what we need, even when we can see only what we want. He has infinite power and capacity to sustain and guide us. He is always willing to forgive us and to help us in all things.
      We can speak with Heavenly Father vocally or by forming thoughts and expressions in our minds and hearts. Personal prayers should be solemn, sacred expressions of praise and gratitude; heartfelt petitions for specific needs and desires; humble, contrite confessions and requests for cleansing forgiveness; pleadings for comfort, direction, and revelation. These expressions often cause us to pour out our very souls to our loving Heavenly Father.
      Prayer is often a brief communication, but it can also be an open and continuous dialogue all throughout the day and night (see Alma 34:27).” Elder Kevin W. Pearson

      So for me at least I do sometimes have these ongoing conversations with Heavenly Father throughout the day, and I speak to him as I would a friend. Once I cried out to Heavenly Father(At a dark time) I cried out to him, “What is wrong with me?” And he answered clear as day, “There is nothing wrong with you, You are my child.”
      Of course I was stunned but I also felt the love and kindness of a Father in those words.
      Growing up Baptist when listening to a sermon God was spoke of and always seemed like something intangible, funny how my prayers then Where, “Dear God…” and today are “Heavenly Father” and end with “We love you” which was something that never occurred to me to say, until a missionary came over for dinner one night and she said it. Today I feel closer to Heavenly Father than would have ever been possible if I stayed a baptist. I can say that with a clear conscience bc I have watched family members and friends drift slowly away and even my own parents who made the effort for us as small children to take us to church every Sunday no long go to any Church at all. As James E. Faust reminds us, “sincere prayers come from the heart. Indeed, sincerity requires that we draw from the earnest feelings of our hearts when we pray.”

    2. ” We are so used to it we hardly notice as people massacre and contort English into some messy imitation of how peasants spoke in Cambridge 5 centuries ago, but anyone from the normal world coming to our meetings expecting the modern, relevant and living gospel we have promised them must think we’re stuck in some weird timewarp. I recently prayed with colleagues from other denominations and habitually used thees and thous and afterwards one commented that he didn’t realise Mormons prayed like 17th century Quakers. He was right. It was bizarre and didn’t help our credibility in his perceptions of us at all. ” – Peet’s ^

      When I went to a LDS church for the first time with my now husband on a sort of “second date” (I was very curious growing up only in baptist churches in the south) this is exactly how I felt. For me the time warp was even more apparent in the hymns. I have now been a member since 2010, feeling the Spirit so strongly of course was all needed to know this is where I belonged. I have ‘Sing Me A Scripture’ in my mini van and listen to it almost everyday, and the hymns have grown on me…Today we had this discussion in a combined meeting and some of the older members were quoting Elder Oaks from 1976. Someone said this type of pretentious behavior only scares away newer converts and I tend to agree with him. To me using thee and thou is pretentious and you are having to put more effort in to sound a certain way versus being sincere and using your heart to guide your thoughts and prayer.

      “To pray is to speak with God, the Eternal Father of our spirits—not at Him but with Him. He loves each of us perfectly and is full of mercy and understanding. He knows everything about us. He knows what we need, even when we can see only what we want. He has infinite power and capacity to sustain and guide us. He is always willing to forgive us and to help us in all things.
      We can speak with Heavenly Father vocally or by forming thoughts and expressions in our minds and hearts. Personal prayers should be solemn, sacred expressions of praise and gratitude; heartfelt petitions for specific needs and desires; humble, contrite confessions and requests for cleansing forgiveness; pleadings for comfort, direction, and revelation. These expressions often cause us to pour out our very souls to our loving Heavenly Father.
      Prayer is often a brief communication, but it can also be an open and continuous dialogue all throughout the day and night (see Alma 34:27).” Elder Kevin W. Pearson

      So for me at least I do sometimes have these ongoing conversations with Heavenly Father throughout the day, and I speak to him as I would a friend. Once I cried out to Heavenly Father(At a dark time) I cried out to him, “What is wrong with me?” And he answered clear as day, “There is nothing wrong with you, You are my child.”
      Of course I was stunned but I also felt the love and kindness of a Father in those words.
      Growing up Baptist when listening to a sermon God was spoke of and always seemed like something intangible, funny how my prayers then Where, “Dear God…” and today are “Heavenly Father” and end with “We love you” which was something that never occurred to me to say, until a missionary came over for dinner one night and she said it. Today I feel closer to Heavenly Father than would have ever been possible if I stayed a baptist. I can say that with a clear conscience bc I have watched family members and friends drift slowly away and even my own parents who made the effort for us as small children to take us to church every Sunday no long go to any Church at all. As James E. Faust reminds us, “sincere prayers come from the heart. Indeed, sincerity requires that we draw from the earnest feelings of our hearts when we pray.”

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