Praying to God: with Thee or You?


Some people when praying to God say Thee and others say You. Is it wrong to say You to God? And if so why?


Hello friend,

In the original Hebrew and Greek, I understand that there is no distinctive pronouns used in addressing God or people.  There are also no capitals or punctuation marks used as we use them in our language today.
In the King James Version this is consistently reflected.  The translators didn't capitalize each personal pronoun referring to God or to the Lord Jesus.  But they also didn't make a distinction in their address of God, men and devils.

For example, in Matthew 11:25 Jesus prays to His Father and says, "I thank thee, O Father ..."
But a few verses earlier Jesus addressed the people of Chorazin with, "Woe unto thee, Chorazin..."
In Mat. 16:23, Jesus addressed the devil and said, "Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me..."

Therefore it is impossible to make a Biblical case to assert that someone does wrong when he or she addresses God with you.  The King James Version translators were men of exceptional godliness and tenderness of heart and they didn't make that distinction in address.

However, to my "ears" it still sounds irreverent.  I have grown up in the Dutch culture where the language uses different pronouns in speaking to adults or to peers.  When I transferred to the English world, I joined a congregation where they used 'Thee and Thou' for the address to God and 'you' when speaking to men, either peers or adults.  So over the years it has been ingrained in my thinking that 'Thee or Thou' is more respectful to use when speaking to God.  I now realize that it is a matter of 'culture' rather than of 'essence.'  I often interact with very respectful Christian people who don't use 'Thee/Thou' and though it still 'sounds irreverent' to me, I need to remind myself that this impression is due to my cultured ears.  God looks at the heart and He can read tender respect or great disrespect behind the words we use.  Ultimately that is what matters most.

Yet I lean toward pleading to retain the 'Thee/Thou' in our address to God.  We live in a day where everything is 'equaled out' and respect for higher authority is waning.  Why not do all to maintain at least these outward expressions of respect that we have available in the Thee/Thou when referring to God?

Pastor Vergunst