Many people prefer the version of the Lord's Prayer that uses "thy." Although I understand people's love for familiar texts and their dislike of "new" translations, I'm always concerned when we use thy.
Formerly, the English language reserved the words thy and thou for beloved family members or lovers. Remember "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" That's why when addressing God, the beloved you (i.e. thee) was used. This is apparent to anyone who has worshiped in German, where one addresses God with "du" and not "sie." Otherwise "du" is only used in intimate relationships like close family members and one's lovers. Even young German children learn that there's something special/loving about the relationship with God each time they hear the Lord's Prayer.
Since thy (unlike du) has fallen into disuse, most English speakers only experience an awkward, unfamiliar feeling that suggests distance when using thy. Can you imagine saying "I love thee" to your spouse or 3-year-old? Your spouse might think you've grown more distant and the child would be confused.
God loves us lavishly and completely (Ephesians 3:17-19). He wants us to love him with our whole heart, soul and mind (Mark 12:30). When our children are taught to say "thy will be done," we are teaching them that God is hard to talk to and far off. The original intention of "thy will be done" and "oh thou who changest not, abide with me" ("Abide with Me," Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 629) was to make these phrases more intimate than our normal conversations. Usage has changed the meaning.
When we continue to use the old translations, we keep people from knowing God as intimate and loving. Which is more important: keeping us comfortable in our worship habits or helping the people of God (and perhaps more importantly those who are coming to know him) to understand God is near to each one of us? Let's address God, our most intimate lover, with you (not thee) as we do with others we love intimately. Let's share this intimateness with God in the prayers we pray and the songs we sing.
Yes, we'll have to give up some familiar texts to achieve this goal, but it will be worth it. Jesus would approve of us doing something hard to achieve something important. Let's help people understand God loves them each time they say "your will be done."
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers