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I have noticed a very subtle distinction in the way Protestants and LDS refer to God. When Protestants pray to God, he may address Him as "Heavenly Father", but when they speak about God, they seem to refer to Him as "Our Heavenly Father".

However, the LDS people that I have known and met seem to refer to God as "Heavenly Father" (without the Our) in both situations--as a direct address and as an indirect address.

I really don't know if there is any reason for this. Perhaps it is just cultural to each group, but I thought I would ask anyway as it does make me curious.

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As @Matt said it's not that significant because they can be used interchangeably (and are both used, I use our in prayer all the time when with other people).

I wanted to address your comment to Matt's answer.

Heavenly Father is used so often in a indirect manner because of the personal relationship LDS feel they have with God.

If I was talking to my sister about my earthly father, I wouldn't say "Our father, said foo and bar", I would however, say, "Father said foo and bar".

He is our father, we know that already so there is no need to refer to him as such again.

It is much the same with our Heavenly Father. We know He is our Heavenly Father, there is no other Heavenly Father, and He is the Heavenly Father of all people on earth, so it's felt that there isn't a need to refer to Him as 'our' Heavenly Father again.

It's interesting to note that Our and My are probably used more by the LDS in prayer then in indirect speech. So if what you say is true about protestant prayer the usage of these possessive words is reversed between the two groups.

I would conjecture that it's more common in prayer in the LDS culture because of how formal and reverent the LDS are towards prayer. The LDS believe that prayer is a dialog between them and God, but the word choice is more akin to a dialog though mail (instant mail but still mail). Where the use of salutations like "Our" or "My" would be more appropriate then normal speech.

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It's not significant. It could have to do with anything from how they're raised, to how they prefer to speak, to language and dialect, to setting, or to anything else. Mormons will say both "Our Heavenly Father" and "Heavenly Father" interchangeably.

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  • Ok... I had just noticed that "Heavenly Father" as an indirect references seemed to be exclusive to LDS. – Narnian May 7 '13 at 19:11
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I am LDS. When a person stands and offers a prayer as the representative of a congregation of people---we say, Our Heavenly Father, but when we are praying only representing ourself (not speaking in behalf of all humanity), we don't need to say, OUR, because we are speaking personally to My Father. When said this way, we are not discrediting that all have the same Father in Heaven. But rather, one example addresses the collective and the other addresses the singular--addressing the personal relationship that one has with their Father, recognizing themselves (and others) as a son or daughter of God.

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While most responses I have heard indicate that it is simply the semantics of a Christian-derived subculture (the LDS) which result in the article-less (i.e. sans "The" or "Our") version typically used by the LDS adherents, I do wonder if the difference in semantics comes from the fact that the two groups are speaking of two different concepts entirely. Most traditional Christians, including Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic, profess the Nicene Creed and their concept of God as the Heavenly Father is closely bound also to their concept of God as an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient being who is the creator of all universes, of everything that exists everywhere, while LDS followers are normally referring specifically to the progenitor of the human race and creator of this world and possibly other worlds, but not all worlds and all universes. God the Father, or Heavenly Father, as he is typically referred to in LDS concepts, is more akin to one of the Greek gods, a created figure, indeed once a human, of massive, but not unlimited power, and he is a specific, corporeal being, not a purely spiritual being. I am not certain this is the reason for the difference in semantics, but I suspect it has something to do with it. I should also note that I am by no means an expert and if any LDS folks dispute my characterization of their cosmology, I am open to discussion.

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