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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Please, please say a prayer tonight for our co-worker who is in critical condition. Richard Tribou, al, 23 Feb. 2023 The imam came to the cemetery to say the funeral prayer for a couple pulled from the rubble in Adana and delivered to the cemetery where they were put in the freezer. Stephen Kalin, WSJ, 9 Feb. 2023 One way to approach this process is to read or say aloud a healing prayer. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 30 Jan. 2023 The sister can be heard saying a prayer to Jesus to protect her as the tornado draws closer. Michael Murney, Chron, 25 Jan. 2023 Thomas marks Tết by lighting some incense and saying a prayer before an altar decorated with bowls of rice and fruit. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 19 Jan. 2023 Jews around the world today remember the miracle by saying a prayer and lighting a menorah — a nine-branched candelabra — once a night for eight days. Justin Klawans, The Week, 18 Dec. 2022 Immediately before the procedure started, a prison chaplain placed his right hand on Beatty's chest and said a brief prayer. CBS News, 9 Nov. 2022 When it was announced a verdict has been reached, Kaiser and his supporters formed a circle in the hallway outside the courtroom and said a group prayer. Jake Allen, The Indianapolis Star, 21 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prayer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 25 Mar. 2023.

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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