1 of 2

noun (1)

often attributive
: an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought
said a prayer for the success of the voyage
: a set order of words used in praying
: an earnest request or wish
: the act or practice of praying to God or a god
kneeling in prayer
: a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers
often used in plural
: something prayed for
: a slight chance
haven't got a prayer


2 of 2

noun (2)

pray·​er ˈprā-ər How to pronounce prayer (audio)
: one that prays : supplicant

Examples of prayer in a Sentence

Noun (1) he always directed a bedside prayer to God before going to sleep we hope that the governor will hear our prayer and do something about this pressing problem
Recent Examples on the Web
The gathering ended on a soulful note — a closing prayer from Minister Fuqua Bey from the Moorish Science Temple of America No. 25. Andrea May Sahouri, Detroit Free Press, 11 July 2024 After Sommer allowed a motion to admit a limited portion of his call with his wife post-shooting, Baldwin hung his head for several moments with his hands together similar to a prayer gesture in front of his face. NBC News, 11 July 2024 Ellis had a chance to win the game, but his prayer as the game clock expired missed iron altogether. Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 10 July 2024 Given the talent involved, Fly Me to the Moon should be the stratospheric answer to our summer-movie prayers. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 10 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for prayer 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prayer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French priere, praiere, preiere, from Medieval Latin precaria, from Latin, feminine of precarius obtained by entreaty, from prec-, prex

Noun (2)

Middle English prayere, from prayen to pray + -er entry 2

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prayer was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near prayer

Cite this Entry

“Prayer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the act or practice of praying to God
a moment of silent prayer
: a set of words addressed to God
a prayer of thanksgiving
: an earnest request or wish : plea
: a religious practice consisting chiefly of prayers
had regular family prayers

Legal Definition


: the part of a pleading (as a complaint) that specifies the relief sought
also : a request for relief or some other action by the court

More from Merriam-Webster on prayer

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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