Saturday, January 21, 2012

Discussion: Pray For Me?

If someone tells you they’ll “pray for you,” when they know you’re an atheist, does it bother you, make no difference, or make you feel good?


  1. Makes no difference. I try to assume they mean well, even though what I hear is "I'm going to make myself feel better by doing something that does you no good at all, and I know you know that" which is a bit selfish. But usually the offer of prayers comes with some kind of "let me me know if there's anything I can do," and even when it doesn't, the fact they're making the effort to think some kind of positive thought is something to counterbalance the silliness.

    The harder thing is when a Christian asks for prayers on their behalf, because they know that's not something I'm going to do. I'm happy to reaffirm my sincere desire for their good health and happiness to them directly (so I read requests for prayers that don't explicitly ask for "positive thoughts/vibes," which most do now, as requests for that reaffirmation), but I'm not going to demean that by pretending to have access to supernatural beings.

  2. It all depends on the situation. If it's someone who's wanting to pray that I'll find their god who I know is quite sincere in the beliefs and lives up to the own standards then I can usually just brush it off, if on the other hand it's someone who doesn't fit the above and I know they're just trying to get under my skin then it is actually annoying.

    If I'm going through something rough then I can just reinterpret it as, "you're in my thoughts" or some other well wishes and not let it bother me.

  3. I'm not an atheist so your question isn't directed at me but I find the phrase, "I'll pray for you," to commonly be the most insincere statement made by Christians UNLESS I know they mean it but many Christians who say this offer nothing more than fluff.

    I make every effort to actually do what I say if I tell someone I will pray for them (often I'll do it right in the moment), and it doesn't matter to me whether they are atheist, muslim or mormon. Obviously, I ask if that would be okay and respect if they say no. But when I am speaking with someone of another faith (including atheists), most often I will ask if I can bless them and most people don't refuse a blessing.

    1. Again, this is not coming from an atheist viewpoint but I laughed my head off at this post,

      razzle dazzle, razzle dazzle

  4. I realize this question is not for Christians, but I thought I'd give you my perspective. I do not tell Atheists I will pray for them. I do in fact pray for individuals, but I think to tell them I will be doing it would be kind of haughty and self-righteous. In other words, I think a good many Christians who intentionally tell Atheists they will pray on their behalf are doing so to (for lack of a better term) look down on the Atheist.

    I emailed you about the interview offer, should I take the non-response as a rejection?

  5. I've experienced it as a putdown, and responded "welcome to the crowd" to convey the ineffectiveness of prayer. My response left them speechless.

  6. well it really depends there are those that ask for money or a donation and then they will pray for u
    but if someoen wants to pray for me and asks nothing from me then y not

  7. Great question. It makes no difference to me. Although I appreciate that the person means well, the comment means absolutely nothing to me. I'm not offended when someone says "god bless you" when I sneeze (but I prefer Gesundheit!"), saying a prayer for me has the same effect.


  8. It depends. Even back when I was a Christian, some Christians would say this as a way to say "I'm ending the conversation, and btw F you"

    When I was a Christian I would never tell people I would pray for them, for the same reason Jesus said don't brag about giving to charity or praying in public. It's no different than bragging, and saying nothing useful. Also since I'd forget :)

    But my fiance will say this sometimes, or even ask me to pray for her, and it does bother me a little. But I try to just forget it since she's not a fundamentalist or wackjob.


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