What Does The Word ‘Pray’ Mean In Hebrew And Greek

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All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.

There are many Christians who pray every day. There are others who think it’s a really spiritual thing and can only do it in certain positions. However, to pray to God simply means to share communication with Him. We can ask Him for things or simply tell Him how we’re feeling. The Lord loves to talk with His people and will give wisdom to all who ask. Let’s explore the Hebrew and Greek definitions of the word pray.

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What Does The Word ‘Pray’ Mean In Hebrew?

athar- to burn incense in worship; intercede; pray.

palal- to pray, mediate, intervene, judge. Palal means to come between two parties, always being human beings. For example, palal is used 1 Samuel 2:25: “If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?” However, this word is also used to describe the prophets while praying on behalf of the Israelites.

“Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.”

-Numbers 21:7.

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.”

1 Samuel 12:23.

tsela- in the sense of bowing to pray.

sha’el- to ask, inquire, consult. Usually, this term is used for simple requests such as in the following scripture: “He asked for water, she gave milk; She brought out cream in a lordly bowl.” (Judge 5:25) Also, sha’el is used in the sense of praying for something. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.” “(Psalms 122:6). There’s plenty of times this word shows up to indicate someone asking God for direction or counsel.

“Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.”

-Joshua 9:14

Who walk to go down to Egypt,
And have not asked My advice,
To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh,
And to trust in the shadow of Egypt!

-Isaiah 30:2



The words used in the Hebrew indicate some sort of intercession. Moses interceded for the Israelites as well as the prophets. The Lord heard the prayers of His people and showed mercy on them time and time again.

What Does The Word ‘Pray’ Mean In Greek?

deomai- to beg; pray; petition; make request; beseech.

erotao- request; ask; pray; beseech; desire. This term constantly suggests that the petitioner is on the same rank or status of the one whom he intreats. For example, it’s used when a king is making a request from another king (Luke 14:32). Interestingly, it’s used when the Pharisee asked Jesus to eat with him. This indicates the low perception he had of Christ.

“Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.”

-Luke 7:36


Fun Fact:

When Jesus made requests to the Father, He always used the term erotao. This shows their equal status and He asked upon equal terms.

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

-John 14:16

In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

-John 16:26-27

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.

-John 17:9

euchomai- to pray to God.

“Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified.”

-2 Corinthians 13:7

parakaleo- beseech; comfort; call for. This term is frequently used to “call to one’s aid.”

proseuchomai- to pray to God; supplicate; worship; pray; make prayer. Every time this word is used, it’s related to ‘making a prayer to God’.

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

-Romans 8:26

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

-Ephesians 6:18



Although Paul interceded for many of the churches during his time, we have the ability to pray directly to God. The scripture above tells us to pray at all times in the Spirit. Therefore, we should always have open communication with the Lord. If He speaks to us, we definitely do not want to miss it. Don’t be afraid to go to God because the Word tells us to go boldly to the throne of grace.

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What Does The Word 'Pray' Mean In Hebrew And Greek?

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