American English

Definition of prayer noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] prayer (for somebody/something) words that you say to God giving thanks or asking for help to say your prayers prayers for the sick He arrived at that very moment, as if in answer to her prayer. Their prayers were answered and the child was found safe and well. Topic CollocationsReligionbeing religious believe in God/Christ/Allah/free will/predestination/heaven and hell/an afterlife/reincarnation be/become an agnostic/an atheist/a believer/a Buddhist/Christian/Hindu/Muslim, etc. convert to/practice a religion/Buddhism/Catholicism/Christianity/Islam/Judaism, etc. go to church/temple (= the synagogue) go to the local church/mosque/synagogue belong to a church/a religious community join/enter the Church/a convent/a monastery/the clergy/the priesthood/a religious sect/a cult praise/worship/obey/serve/glorify Godcelebrations and ritual attend/hold/conduct/lead a service perform a ceremony/a rite/a ritual/a baptism/the Hajj/a bar mitzvah/a bat mitzvah carry out/perform a sacred/burial/funeral/fertility/purification rite/the last rites go on/make a pilgrimage celebrate Christmas/Diwali/Easter/Eid/Hanukkah/Passover/Ramadan observe/break the Sabbath/a fast/Ramadan deliver/preach/hear a sermon lead/address the congregation say/recite a prayer/blessingreligious texts and ideas preach/proclaim/spread the word of God/the Gospel/the message of Islam/a message study/follow the dharma/the teachings of Buddha read/study/understand/interpret scripture/the Bible/the Koran/the Gospel/the Torah be based on/derived from divine revelation commit/consider something heresy/sacrilegereligious belief and experience seek/find/gain enlightenment/wisdom strengthen/lose/question your faith keep/practice/abandon the faith save/purify/lose your soul obey/follow/keep/break/violate a commandment/Islamic law/Jewish law be/accept/do God's will receive/experience divine grace achieve/attain enlightenment/salvation/nirvana undergo a conversion/rebirth/reincarnation hear/answer a prayer commit/confess/forgive a sin do/perform penance
  2. 2[countable] a fixed form of words that you can say when you speak to God It was a prayer she had learned as a child. see also the Lord's Prayer
  3. 3[uncountable] the act or habit of praying They knelt in prayer. We believe in the power of prayer.
  4. 4prayers [plural] a religious meeting that takes place regularly in which people say prayers
  5. 5[countable, usually singular] a thing that you hope for very much My prayer is that one day he will walk again.
  6. Idioms
    not have a prayer (of doing something)
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    to have no chance of succeeding (in doing something)
    on a wing and a prayer
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    with only a very slight chance of success
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: prayer