prayed; praying; prays

transitive verb

: entreat, implore
often used as a function word in introducing a question, request, or plea
pray be careful
: to get or bring by praying

intransitive verb

: to make a request in a humble manner
: to address God or a god with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving

Examples of pray in a Sentence

There's little else to do now but hope and pray. The minister said, “Let us pray.” He prayed that they would have the strength to go on. He prayed that he would find a parking spot.
Recent Examples on the Web While firefighters continue to battle blazes across the state and as officials pray for rain, the wildfire season is far from over. Sara Cline, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 Sep. 2023 In Los Angeles, during the 1980s, then-Archbishop Roger Mahony called for LGBTQ people to gather and pray, which subsequently led to the creation of the Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons. Molly Walsh |, cleveland, 14 Sep. 2023 In the case of the praying coach, this meant a public school could not block his display of prayer at a sporting event, something that would have been seen as an unconstitutional entanglement of government with religion under previous courts. Morgan Marietta, The Conversation, 13 Sep. 2023 The star running back was carted off, and the entire Browns team surrounded him on the field, some crying, some praying. Ashley Bastock, cleveland, 19 Sep. 2023 She was raised in a Presbyterian household in Santa Barbara, where her father insisted that the family pray before every meal and sang hymns with the children before bed. Nina Chhita, New York Times, 18 Sep. 2023 By sunset, the strains of guitar music and drums could be heard, encouraging people to come and pray, as a light rain began to fall. Sophie Neiman, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Sep. 2023 Dallas police officers in tactical gear converge on a stall where Lopez is crouched in a praying position, appearing asleep or unconscious. Michael Williams, Dallas News, 18 Sep. 2023 Is the demon in Annabelle the same Ram that the cult prays to? Vulture, 15 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pray.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French prier, praer, preier, from Latin precari, from prec-, prex request, prayer; akin to Old High German frāga question, frāgēn to ask, Sanskrit pṛcchati he asks

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pray was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near pray

Cite this Entry

“Pray.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to ask earnestly : beg
I pray you, tell me where they went
: to address God with adoration, confession, pleading, or thanksgiving

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: to ask for
plaintiff prays judgment against the defendants
used especially in pleadings

intransitive verb

: to make a request of a court especially in a complaint or petition
complainant prays for declaratory relief

More from Merriam-Webster on pray

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