Definition of prayer in English:



  • 1A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.

    ‘I'll say a prayer for him’
    ‘a commitment to a life of holiness through prayer and Bible-reading’
    • ‘He muttered a quick prayer to God, asking him for forgiveness.’
    • ‘Helen closed the door behind the man, and said a silent prayer of thanks.’
    • ‘He concludes with a section on famous prayers and another of prayers by the famous.’
    • ‘The milder and more beneficent forces of nature were addressed as female deities and invoked with prayers.’
    • ‘Anne prayed her prayer of thanks to the Lord for this gracious meal and heard Luke praying with her.’
    • ‘There are Shinto prayers and Shinto rituals, but the doctrine is minimal.’
    • ‘A remote, retroactive intercessory prayer was said for the well being and full recovery of the intervention group.’
    • ‘The church also offers intercessory prayers for public authorities, both ecclesiastical and political.’
    • ‘He fell to his knees, hands clasped in a prayer of thanksgiving.’
    • ‘Jillian said a silent prayer to the gods of all small percussionists.’
    • ‘So I am humbly requesting whatever prayers, good vibes and help you can muster.’
    • ‘Human beings are addressing God in prayers for help against the inducements of the devil.’
    • ‘I may be a sinner, but the sinner whom these prayers were describing was not me.’
    • ‘The conclusion that is drawn later is that remote, retroactive intercessory prayer is effective.’
    • ‘The core of the Muslim liturgy is the five obligatory daily prayers, whether performed alone or in congregation.’
    • ‘Just before the final dive into the Pacific Ocean, she is heard leading the sinner's prayer for salvation.’
    • ‘I take in shattered breaths, gathering all the strength I need, uttering a silent prayer to God.’
    • ‘At each shrine you pause, and you say some prayers and you greet each deity.’
    • ‘Sincere prayer also furthers the glorification of God, the goal of all creation.’
    • ‘God answers our prayers because by addressing them to Him we acknowledge His Lordship and power.’
    invocation, intercession, devotion
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    1. 1.1A religious service, especially a regular one, at which people gather in order to pray together.
      ‘500 people were detained as they attended Friday prayers’
      • ‘He refused to transact business on Sundays, held regular family prayers, and was a student of biblical prophecy.’
      • ‘Friday afternoon prayers are widely attended and Muslim holidays are observed.’
      • ‘Barring these, the place looked the very picture of a religious place where the prayers were about to begin.’
      • ‘A special prayer around the Cross for young people takes place for the Lenten Season.’
      • ‘In legal writings the term is applied to the leader of the congregational prayers in the mosque.’
      • ‘The mosque is now used by about 100 people for regular prayers and up to 200 for religious festivals.’
      • ‘Teachers and other dignitaries attended his funeral prayers in a large number.’
      • ‘Scheduled prayers and services on Radio 4 throughout the week will reflect events.’
      • ‘Never did I, or any other boy from a lower caste, get a chance to lead the prayers at the morning assembly.’
      • ‘The same dress code applies to marriages and funerals and normally applies to morning and evening prayer on Sundays.’
      • ‘Youth will begin the workshops with opening and closing prayers and a sunrise ceremony each day.’
      • ‘Prayer for divine healing is held on Wednesdays at 7.45 pm.’
      • ‘Those who remain on-site during the workday gather for midday prayers before eating lunch.’
      • ‘The strike came as worshippers had gathered for afternoon prayers, witnesses said.’
      • ‘Last week they also gathered to attend Friday prayers, but did not hold discussions afterwards.’
      • ‘Salat is the obligatory Muslim prayers, performed 5 times each day by every good Muslim.’
      • ‘With your graciousness come to honor her loving memory during the funeral services and prayers.’
      • ‘There are about 30 mosques in the city where prayers are being held regularly.’
      • ‘Before we got ready to sleep the three of us knelt together for prayers.’
      • ‘A roll call was read out and Christian and Muslim prayers observed.’
      religious worship, worship, religious observance
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    2. 1.2An earnest hope or wish.
      ‘it is our prayer that the current progress on human rights will be sustained’
      • ‘The hopes and prayers of red squirrel-loving people everywhere march with you.’
      • ‘With a silent prayer hoping that her plan would work, she threw the talisman at the demons.’
      • ‘But they are hoping the answer to their prayers lies in a disused warehouse on Westlea Industrial Estate.’
      • ‘He could only hope that someday his prayers would be answered.’
      • ‘You can send your prayers and good wishes to the families using the comments section below.’
      • ‘She started the restaurant when her marriage dissolved, on little but hope and prayers.’
      • ‘Our deepest sympathies, prayers and best wishes go out to our fellow citizens who were injured in the blast.’
      • ‘To them, and to all of you, it is my wish and regular prayer that this new year will bring peace and harmony.’
      • ‘Villagers waiting more than 30 years for a new village hall hope their prayers will soon be answered.’
      • ‘We asked girls to share their thoughts, their hopes, their fears and their prayers.’
      • ‘Swan will carry the hopes and prayers of Ireland as the country's current equine hero seeks to retain his crown.’
      • ‘So we got a lot of work ahead of us, but you know, we need all the hopes and the prayers from everybody at home.’
      • ‘Just when she is about to give up hope, the answer to her prayers seems to fall out of the sky.’


Middle English: from Old French preiere, based on Latin precarius obtained by entreaty from prex, prec- prayer.