It’s usually associated with the church, and saying a prayer for someone or something, but it kind of covers a lot of different situations, like,
We’ll pray for rain, we’ll pray for Mary to recover, I’ll pray for forgiveness.
In other words, in all of these instances, we are looking for intervention by God.
There is another instance, not related to religion, in that in a general sense you can pray for good weather over the weekend because they’re going camping.
In fact it is basically to hope for something very much.
It is, in a sense, wishful thinking, because in reality, no-one can predict, let alone dictate, what the weather will be.
It is also a forceful way of saying something, like,
Where the hell have you been, pray tell?
There is another word that sounds quite similar, prey.
That describes a creature that is hunted by another for food.
It’s also someone who is easily deceived or harmed.
It could also be something that preys on your mind