What do you guys say when someone offers to pray for you?


I'm new here and was just wondering what you guys say to someone when they hear about a situation with you or your family and they respond by saying "you have my prayers" or "I'll be praying for you" or something like that? I don't usually say much or just move the conversation on, but more and more as I age maybe, I want to somehow tactfully let them know that I don't believe in god(s) or prayers. I am not at all offended, if they believe they will help me by praying, so be it, but for some odd reason I never know what to say when someone tells me they'll be praying for me... Any suggestions or input would be appreciated! Have a great weekend everyone!

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I actually encounter that a lot (living in the bible belt) and I was hoping there would have been some answers to it already! It is a little risky to let anyone here know you don't believe. They just flat out are not accepting of nonbelievers. 

Maybe something like "I'm glad I will be in your thoughts" would be appropriate as it is polite and doesn't acknowledge the prayers. After a couple of times they may catch on that you are deliberately not acknowledging the prayer aspect of the comment and therefore may catch on that you are not a believer.

While I know they have good intentions, it is a bit off-putting for someone to just assume their religion applies to everyone and I think a kind comment that is not specifically religious is more polite to use. Such as: "thinking of you in this tough time" or "keeping you in my thoughts" because that certainly wouldn't offend anyone's religion or lack thereof.

If they word it as they will be praying for you as a response to finding out you are a nonbeliever, I am pretty sure that is meant as a sideways insult.

Sorry for the long response and babbling, just a few of my thoughts on the subject.

If they word it as they will be praying for you as a response to finding out you are a nonbeliever, I am pretty sure that is meant as a sideways insult.

Yeah, if I ever got one of those (which I can't specifically remember ever really getting; I'm 6'1", male, and strong), I'd probably respond with something about sacrificing a goat or having my girlfriend do a spell for them at her next Wiccan circle.

The fact that I don't have a Wiccan girlfriend is beside the point.  I'd just grab for the most objectionable-to-them religious activity that came to mind, at the time.  I'm kind of aggressive that way.


Depends upon the phrasing and the delivery.  If someone asks if I'd like them to pray for me or something like that, I'll respond with a simple refusal.  "Nah, I'm good," or something along those lines.

If someone comes out with a simple statement, I'll usually give some sort of confused response.  I'm a little more aggressive about my non-belief.  I find that a good conceit is to pretend that religion and prayer are things that people do somewhere else.  Well yeah, superstitious, ignorant people believe in that whole religion thing, but obviously people around here are too bright for that, right?

"I'll be praying for you."

"Why would you do that?"

<theist response>

"Why would you think that would do anything?"

If there are any followup questions, a couple more bewildered questions of the same sort tend to end things.  People can only keep it up for so long, when someone is so dismissive.

Similarly, if someone asks me if I believe in God or follow some religion, I'll load the no with as much bewildered derision as I can manage, or I'll add in a little amused snort, or something along those lines.  I'm in a more liberal, less religious area, so I don't need the pretenses.

I don't say anything, because they are mostly alot older and their intentions are good. I don't think they could even comprehend how it would be offensive. My mom's friend took credit for me getting my first house:) When i was battling the IRS and the tax man for records to get approved, this woman said she would be praying for me. If i said anything against it, I'm SURE she would take it as an insult. It does make me want to distance myself from her, because something might slip out of my mouth. 

I'm with damian. Most of the time people have good intentions and I don't sit there and pray with them. I've been an atheist for a long time and it takes a lot to offend.
That would depend on if the person knew I was an atheist or not; in my tiny little village everyone knows I am, and was a former Wiccan (never Christian).

If the person does not know I am an atheist (or a former Wiccan), I would accept it as a caring thought, though I would likely ask for physical help if I needed it.

If the person does know I am an atheist I am not so nice. That makes the remark snarky, or condescending, and I am under no compunction to either accept nor acknowledge such a remark. Generally I take the high road and do not fire back a snarky remark, though, just pointedly acknowledge their prayerful concern without referencing the prayer.

I live in the bible belt as well and I normally tell them their 'thoughts' are much appreciated. Most people that really know me know that I'm an outspoken Atheist and will refrain from using that terminology but...some forget. If I'm asked to pray for someone--I let them know I will keep them in my 'thoughts'.

It all depends on the context for me. There are those who use the phrase to honestly mean that they will be praying for me and believe that it will help. I have no problem with these people. Then there are those who use it passive aggressively. They know you're a heathen and make a point of mentioning religious things they do in order to jab at you. These people are jerks. In these situations, I know that being a jerk back won't do me or the reputation of the Atheist community any good, so usually just end up distancing myself from those types rather than start anything.

By and large, I ignore it. Rarely, I'll even say thanks for thinking of me. But those special folks who get on my nerves get asked to "do something useful" instead. ;)

I say thanks, I appreciate that if I think they are sincere. Any hint of sarcasm they will get it right back. 

Best story ever.  I wonder if it had any affect on those folks.  Either way, I know it must have had a positive affect on you!  Even if the short term was more or less the opposite.




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