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 Denied free speech Kennedy lost his coaching job in 2015 following a battle with the school district over a dispute that centered around Kennedy's practice of praying at the 50-yard line immediately after games, at times including players. Jeff Graham, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2023 Kennedy insisted on praying publicly at midfield after games, and the district placed him on leave and declined to renew his contract. Antonio Planas, NBC News, 7 Sep. 2023 There were people who prayed for a ticket code and then had to do an Ocean’s 11 style coordination among their friends and family to make it through the TicketMaster trenches to get a coveted seat. Marissa Evans, Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2023 While at the hospital, Ernst prayed to Steve, saying Olvey wasn’t ready to meet him yet. David Aaro, ajc, 6 Sep. 2023 Travis Barker took time to pray before Blink-182 postponed several upcoming concerts. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 1 Sep. 2023 On the sidelines, mothers who had lost children cried and prayed, holding hands and hugging one another. Alaina Bookman |, al, 1 Sep. 2023 On Sunday evening, a dozen local faith leaders, including Mr. Gallion’s pastor, Bishop John E. Guns of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, prayed for the victims. Anna Betts, New York Times, 30 Aug. 2023 Worshipers were seen praying at Hindu temples, mosques and Sikh gurdwaras ahead of its landing. Rhea Mogul, CNN, 24 Aug. 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 21 Sep. 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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