A Buddhist does not pray to an external deity or force, rather he is using the prayer to concentrate his energies internally. It is a form of meditation that helps us expand our capacity for compassion, wisdom and understanding. It helps renew our strength as we face issues, it is not a plea out of fear, or material gain, nor do we direct our prayers to an idol or statue. It is a desire to gain new energy, new knowledge, or better understanding, which will allow us to relieve our own or another’s suffering. You could say we are having a conversation with our ego, saying tell our 6 senses that this is what we want to accomplish, so no more trying to obtain that shiny bauble, or what is for lunch, we have this task and we need to accomplish it. It can also take the form of reciting a mantra or sutta that has wisdom that applies to the problem we are facing. In this case you may see a Buddhist using prayer beads.