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
Dozens of people gathered at the school district's offices for a prayer vigil Thursday. CBS News, 10 May 2024 The call to prayer reminded Caramazza of her childhood spent in Jordan. Hoda Sherif, TIME, 10 May 2024 Blue tarps and blankets were put down in the middle of the lawn for Islamic prayers and a Passover Seder and a Shabbat service. Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2024 Tennessee prayer vigil draws 500 after storm injures 10-year-old boy About 500 people gathered in a Tennessee parking lot Thursday to show their support for 10-year-old Asher Sullivan after he was gravely injured in the brutal storm. Anthony Robledo, USA TODAY, 9 May 2024 But the most important of all are her daily prayer and meditation sessions. Essence, 8 May 2024 The families of Sherrill and Holmes deserve our prayers and our help. Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer, 6 May 2024 At Columbia last Friday, a faculty member walked the perimeter of the encampment discouraging news cameramen from filming those inside, while students held up large blankets to further obscure people kneeling in prayer. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, 2 May 2024 There were also trauma specialists and licensed therapists on hand, along with whatever additional emotional and spiritual support local tribes wanted, from traditional singers and dancers to prayer, smudging, and massage. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 29 Apr. 2024

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 20 May. 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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