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 The message concludes with a praying, crying and red love heart emoji. Kirsty Hatcher, Peoplemag, 19 June 2024 This is the United States; there’s nothing wrong with a praying judge. Theodore R. Johnson, Washington Post, 18 June 2024 Devotees may sing and pray in processions and in prayer services scheduled throughout the pilgrimage. Sophie Carson, Journal Sentinel, 17 June 2024 The matriarch, Beatriz Hernández, prays every day that somehow, one day, Peña’s dreams can go beyond Harvard. Laura Rodríguez Presa, Chicago Tribune, 16 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for pray 

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 23 Jun. 2024.

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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