So, we found out my mother in law has lung cancer last week. The fundies at my work (my wife works there too in another dept.) have already started. It's difficult for me to know how to respond to this. Acquaintances keep coming up saying "We've put your in- laws on our church's prayer list!". I usually kind of say "Um....ok...... thanks? I gotta go." and I know it comes off completely disingenuous. The situation kind of stumps me because I'm not going to gush at them about how grateful I am, like they just had the most original idea and saved her life. And I'm not going to tell them to fuck off we don't need no stinking prayers. My MIL is a non-church attending xtian, BTW. The kind that wears jeebus t-shirts, you know. I'm sure she would really appreciate it.
Overall it is just uncomfortable for me when it happens. I know they mean well. Several years ago, when my two day old daughter died, these same people handed me a collection of money that completely paid for her funeral. They can be very good, but I think the prayer thing is useless.
I still say thank you. I had folks tell me they were praying for me last week(surgery to remove Gunther the gallbladder) so I just said thank you. Instead of me seeing it as them trying to be pushy(as I have in other cases) I saw it as them really wanting to be helpful and kind but not have a clue on what to do.
And having that thought as you go under, that folks are thinking about you and worried for you(or your loved one's wellbeing), is a kind of sweet thing.
And I am sorry about the loss of your daughter. That is pretty hard on anyone(my cousin lost her son in uteru..long story).
This is a tough one when applied to oneself, but in the case of your MIL, I think a response along the lines of "I will tell her. She'll appreciate it," or something along those lines would be just fine.
I hate this stuff. A friend of my parents who goes to the same church as they do (and does not know about my personal beliefs) walks by my workplace on his way to work and told me a couple weeks ago that when he sees my car (bright yellow, hard to miss) he prays for me as he walks along. I think I said something moronic like "every little bit helps!" or some such silliness. *face palm* I have yet to come up with an appropriate response to this dilemma that doesn't require an armed escort post-communication.
By the way, I send my well-wishes. No prayers.
I know it's not going to do any good, and you know it's not going to do any good, but if this prayer list gives these people a way of expressing their concern and compassion for a fellow human being in need, be grateful and say "Thank you for caring and showing your support for my mother-in-law. I know she will be comforted by your prayers."
Praying for the recovery of the sick is the sort of behavior we ought to encourage among believers, rather than, you know, cheering someone's demise if they're uninsured...
I hope your MIL beat it, and/or is comfortable.
A possible reply:
"Thanks for the thoughts, but if you want to help my MIL and others like her, please take up a collection for the American Cancer Society." - and hand them a donation envelope.
I'm sorry about your MIL and the loss of your daughter. I agree with both Michael and Steph on this issue. As a 3 time cancer survivor myself, I know she is in for a battle.