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Prayer language – thoughts by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

The Language of Prayer — Thoughts from a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, May 1993

  • We use special words and language to convey respect for authority or position.  For example, in Church callings, in the military, in the mission field, in the judicial and political system, and especially in PRAYER!
  • The special language of prayer conveys love, respect, reverence, and closeness.  We use thee, thou, thy, and thine in the place of you, your, and yours.
  • Examples of prayer language in the scriptures include Matthew 6:9, John 17:3, Doctrine and Covenants 20:77-79, Doctrine and Covenants 109:10-12, and Doctrine and Covenants 121:1 & 6.
  • The language of prayer is a distinctive, unique way to show respect to Heavenly Father.
  • Despite using these unique pronouns in prayer, we avoid flowery or wordy prayers, vain repetitions, and “much speaking”.  We emphasize simple, direct, sincere prayers.
  • We in no way seek to criticize or denounce other faiths that prefer to use more modern language in their prayers.  We know that Heavenly Father hears all prayers, regardless of the words used in those prayers.  We should, however, strive for the respect that accompanies the proper prayer language.
  • We spend weeks, months, or years mastering communication skills, musical talent, foreign languages, and even computer language.  Should we not take the necessary time to master the respectful language of prayer? 

Additional thoughts about prayer language: 

  • The closing phrase in each prayer (…in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen) should be said slowly, clearly, and with great dignity and respect.  This all-important phrase should not be rushed, slurred, or mumbled.
  • The proper ending to a prayer is: “In the name of THY Son, Jesus Christ, Amen” because we are addressing Heavenly Father.  The proper ending to a TESTIMONY or TALK is:  “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen”.  The word ‘Thy’ is not included because it is not a prayer to Heavenly Father.

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