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

Recent Examples on the Web
The action is messy and hard to follow, and a few shots seem stitched together with but a single pixel and a prayer. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Throughout the evening, these four bicker, bond and unwittingly provide each other with the answer to their respective prayers. Rebecca Angel Baer, Southern Living, 19 Sep. 2023 At the health fair, which was held Saturday and sponsored by Good Success Christian Baptist Church, Pastor Bill Bennett II walked around passing out copies of prayers based on Bible verses that emphasize service to others over selfishness. Courtland Milloy, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 Chubb remained on the ground for several minutes while teammates gathered in prayer nearby. CBS News, 19 Sep. 2023 Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence also tweeted out a prayer emoji expressing his well wishes. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 18 Sep. 2023 This text features the story of the Exodus along with prayers and songs to complete the observance. Holly Rizzuto Palker, Parents, 17 Sep. 2023 As the prayer ended, Buys stood with tears streaming down his face. Nikstreng, oregonlive, 16 Sep. 2023 The Muslim community that had previously experienced discrimination, including voter intimidation and resistance to mosques’ public call to prayer, had finally taken its seats at the table. Allan Lengel, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Sep. 2023 See More

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 4 Oct. 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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