The original version of "The Prayer" failed to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100, but was very popular on the adult contemporary charts in both Canada and the United States, peaking at number 6 and number 22 respectively. It has also become popular during Christmas, weddings and, in some cases, funerals.
Paul Verna from Billboard called this song a "gorgeous duet." Chuck Taylor from Billboard reviewed "The Prayer", calling it "a breathtaking, ultra-lush song, and the tour de force combination of Dion and Bocelli [which] will send a half-dozen chills up your spine." Although he felt that the song is "an unorthodox track for the radio," Taylor called it "affecting," "heartwarming," "absolutely exquisite" and "one of Dion's most radiant performances ever."
Callea first performed this song during Australian Idol 2004, in the week of 'contestants choice'. He received a standing ovation for this performance and the "Grand Royal Touchdown" from judge Mark Holden. He would go on to be runner-up in this series.
At the completion of the show, Callea was signed to Sony BMG, and he released "The Prayer" as his debut single.
It was released in Australia on 19 December 2004 and debuted at number 1 on the ARIA Charts. It stayed there for five weeks and was certified 4x platinum by ARIA. It became the fastest-selling single by any Australian artist, and was the second highest selling single in Australia in the last decade overall, and for an Australian artist. The song was included on Callea's debut album Anthony Callea.
2004: Sandi Patty recorded it as a duet with her husband Don Peslis on her album Hymns of Faith...Songs of Inspiration. They also recorded it live for her albums Christmas Live (2009) and Forever Grateful: Live From the Farewell Tour (2017).
2016: Marcelito Pomoy sang the song live on Wish 1075, singing both parts in a female and male voice, making the video viral online. He sang the song as his finale in the Philippine talent show Pilipinas Got Talent in the second season where he was declared winner. He later recorded an album version of the song.
2016: Tori Kelly performed the song with Bocelli two times, the first was his concert in Seattle and the second was in David Foster's Hollywood Bowl concert in Los Angeles, California.