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Wanted: A Viable Replacement for the word “Pray”

with 4 comments

I recently heard a friend say that she is going to “put it out there to the universe” that a good opportunity come along in the next year. That’s when I realized, as a society, we need a viable replacement for the word “pray.”

I understand that “prayer” mean many things, even for evangelical Christians. But I also understand why many people avoid the word. To many English speakers, it implies a literal petition to a personified deity, and a lot people are uncomfortable with that.

As a result, we hear a lot of well-intentioned but awkward substitutes, such as “Please send positive thoughts to my Aunt Gladys, who isn’t feeling well.”

I don’t have a good idea for a suitable replacement, so I would like to invite readers to give their own thoughts and suggestion in the comments.

Some of the obvious choices are:

1) Keep using “pray,” and rehabilitate its connotation;

2) Use different words in different contexts, such as “Please remember my Aunt Gladys, who isn’t feeling well,” and “I earnestly hope for a good opportunity next year,”;

3) Create a neologism … something like, oh heck, I don’t know, “zorp.” Bad example, but you know what I mean. “Please zorp for my husband and I, as we go through this difficult time….”

4) Find some elegant substitute word in English that can be used in most of the instances that “pray” is used. “Remember” seems like a good start.

Come on, let’s make this happen, people. I don’t want to send any more good vibes anyone’s way. What do you think?

Written by Mesocosm

December 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Ephemera

Tagged with , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Does the word “blessings” have the same connotation as “prayers”? I’m thinking it does, but maybe it is a little less preachy and therefore more acceptable to the general population?

    Jody Stefansson

    December 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm

  2. I use the word pray most of the time and I ask people on FB to pray for…. I know that there is no single being receiving the prayer and actually do think of it as putting my request out to the universe. If you’ve ever read A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle there’s a scene that somewhat describes what I envision when I think of “God” or the power of prayer, etc. I do believe in the energy that is created by “prayer.” So, I guess I like door number 1 🙂

    Gerti Garner

    December 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm

  3. I think option 1 is possible, through a reinterpretation that catches fire in popular culture. A song, book, or film could present a new, compelling connotation and lead to new vernacular meaning for “pray.”

    Brainstorming option 3, what about using a phrase like “build hope”? Hope is the closest word I can think of (thus far) to the meaning you’re aiming for, but it’s a noun, so a direct swap won’t work.


    December 7, 2012 at 10:47 pm

  4. Let us zorp that we find a good alternative to “pray.” I usually just say “be well” or something.


    December 12, 2012 at 7:16 am

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