Prayer is something talked a lot about in Gaelic Polytheism, but there is again no “set” way to go about it.
The simplest definition of pray is “to communicate with the divine.” This communication can be in part to gain favor, give thanks, or just simply talk about how your day went. I’d like to expand the word divine into meaning any spiritual being–so ancestors, fae, other spirits are also entities that can be prayed to.
So how do you do it?
I like to think it is as simple as saying words–mentally or out loud–to a specific entity. For example, a prayer I may say to Lugh would go something like: “Lugh! I wanted to share with you how my day is going, and see if you can offer any advice. This is what happened.” or “Dear Lugh, thank you for all that you have done for me. Thank you for everything!”
… I’m not very poetic, usually, when I pray. But there are poetic prayers available, and people have written rather lovely prayers and poems (see some of them here.)
There is some debate on whether the words should be said out-loud or in your head. I think it completely depends on what you are comfortable with doing. The entities I’ve prayed to have given me responses both ways, so my personal view is that it doesn’t matter.
Oh! You may want to include an offering with your prayer, if you are able. Especially if you are asking a request. It’s the hospitable thing to do. The offering can be of incense or just plain water–whatever you can manage. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. But a prayer can be seen as inviting an entity into your home, and you should be hospitable when inviting anyone into your home.
How do you know if your prayer is being received? Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you will just “feel” the entity you are praying to around you in some way. But that can be had to discern, so divination is a good method. Asking to see an omen or sign that they received your prayer is what I do sometimes. Making it specific and doable, ie: “Lugh, if you hear my prayer, by tomorrow at sunset show me three hawks.”
And sometimes you won’t know at all, or get any sign, and that’s fine too. I like to think of it as I sent the spiritual entities a verbal email that they just haven’t gotten a chance to read yet. Unless you’re lucky or the entity in question is being particularly receptive that evening, prayer usually isn’t an instant communication kind of thing. At least not in my experience.
All in all, speak from your heart to the entities of your choosing. That’s the key to praying and prayer