Why It’s Impossible to “say a prayer” in Hebrew

December 1, 2015 ADkeep calm and look up

Back in 1967, Dionne Warwick recorded a hit titled “I Say A Little Prayer“. Over the years, I cannot count the times friends and family undergoing tough situations asked me to “say a prayer” for them.

The verb ‘to say’ gives the idea of speaking words to another person, not necessarily expecting a response.

The Hebrew word nasa or nasah is different. This word means ‘to lift up’ and is used in four ways, one as used in a Jewish wedding where the groom lifts up his bride to carry her from the wedding ceremony into her new home.

Strong's Concordance, No. 5375, nasa or nasah
Strong’s Concordance, No. 5375, nasa or nasah


I refer you to Matthew chapter 6, verses 9 through 13, the model prayer. Jesus instructs us to pray to our father in Heaven (implied) who is up above you. Jewish prayer is directed upward, not horizontally.

An easy way to remember the concept of nasah or nasa is to think about the mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration: to lift up payloads to the heavens.

nasa launch of rocket

Parting thought: How does one “say a little prayer”; the bible commands us to “pray without ceasing”.

Have a blessed day!

John White

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