When someone comments that they will pray for you, what do you say back? Even when I was a pretending christian I felt awkward when people said they would pray for me....

Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer. - Anonymous

and another one I am pseudo-quoting since I can't find a reference at the moment........

Helping hands are far more useful than praying ones.

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It depends on why they are praying for me.

If they pray for me because they wish me good will, then that is fine. I have no problem with that.

If they pray for me because they are trying to save my soul then, I tell them to save their prayers for the sick, hungry and deprived people of the world that their god is choosing to ignore.
i only get told that pray for you or keep you in my prayers bit from christians after they have found out i'm pretty hardcore about my atheism. i always ask whether or not they would say that to someone who was hindu, or jewish because their bible damns those people to hell for not having the same beliefs as them. this has always shut the christian up on the spot.
Good idea...I feel like this is a response I should adopt.
I say "oh! Thank You" real sappy, like you'd say to a kid. That's because I'm a bitch.
A long time ago (high school) I was not feeling well when I ran in to a friends mother who was very religious. She noticed I was ill and immediately asked "Are you baptized in the blood of our lord and savior Jesus Christ?"
I was like "What the Fook? That's messed up!". Knee jerk reaction. She said she would pray for me and I said I would take some meds, you know, just in case. I am pretty sure she could tell I was a bit freaked out!
I say "Thank you for wishing me well and having good intentions." I'm very out with my atheism so everyone knows I don't believe in their god or their prayers. One dear Catholic friend could not take hints for the longest time since he knew me before my deconversion. He kept sending me prayer chain-emails, etc. and I finally had to reply "ATHEIST - Look it up!" Now we have the agreement that he won't offer to pray for me and I won't call his priest "the man in a dress"
It is much worse when they ask you to pray for them, not knowing your non-religious identity.

My response depends on the fragility of the person making the request.

My most frequent resonse is, "I will keep a desire for your well being in my thoghts."

It is possible to become an artful dodger. Anticipating and deflecting.
I either politely say "thank you", or just nod my head to acknowledge that I heard them. I'll be a bit more genuine if they're responding to hearing about a loss or something that I'm dealing with. It's their way of showing concern. I feel more awkward when someone asks ME to pray for/about something. So far my usual responses are to say "I'm sorry to hear about xyz, I'll keep you/it/them in my thoughts" or ask if there's anything practical I can do to help (which kind of falls along the lines of your hands quote!)
I don't make a big deal of it. I say, "yeah, go for it". I really don't care since prayer accomplishes nothing for me but might help relax the person praying.

Daniel Dennet had some heart problems a while back and when some of his theist friends told him that they were praying for them, he asked if they "had sacrificed a goat". That may have been a knee jerk reaction but it did come accross as a bit mean. This seems especially true since it did come from friends who were genuinely concerned.
I will say, no matter the context, "Oh, please don't. I am not a believer. Have a great day!"

Nice and respectful yet still getting the idea out that just because so many people are religious doesn't mean I have to tolerate "God Bless You"'s and "I'll pray for you"'s.
say back to them "Gesundheit!"

at which they will respond: "...but I didn't sneeze..?"

to which you close with ".. correct .. you didn't.. it worked that well"

imho : It actually is more effective if you are able to say Gesundheit! as you are exiting
and not let the chat ensue, let them unravel it on their own.

ie., both gestures are ineffective, uncalled for and outdated.

or 'moo' at them : It also has the same effect.
I wouldn't say anything. I'd just be friendly.

When someone sneezes, you say "Bless you". what do you do if they sneer and tell you they're an Atheist? Surely you meant well. It's like when someone gives you a box of chocolates and you say, "omigod they have nuts in them, omigod omigod how nasty".

I have a great story about prayer though.

My brother was talking to an accountant, he was asking him about something and the accountant says asks him if he's tried praying about it. Of course, my brother gently explains that praying isn't really his thing, that he's not a religious man or anything. The accountant is like, "Okay, okay well that's fine. I want you to pray anyway, to whatever you want to, and then do the opposite of the answer you get, because you sure can't be praying to God".

I mean, this man was an accountant!



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