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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I just say "thank you" and carry on. The fact that someone is "praying" for you, i think, is just that they are showing good will towards you. Being a community of atheists, we should recognize that the whole idea behind our atheist beliefs, though they are many and diverse, is in fact good will. To deliberately put someone down by crushing their beliefs, which may in fact hold their life together (those poor, misguided people), is against what most if not all atheists are trying to acheive, which is a commonality for everyone.

Now if you meant that they will "prEy" for you, I'd be scared. These people arent cannibals, are they?
I completely agree with you on this. I have a super religious mother whose whole life is built on religion even though she doesn't realize that she creates the situations in her life that help justify her beliefs...but in the end she means well and its too late in her life to try to realign her thinking. She would deal with extreme amounts of guilt and I love her way too much for that.

I think its like that for all religious people and I love the quote about the working hands lol
Just a respectful disagreement one one point, though I have the same relationship with my mom...

It's NEVER, EVER too late and one is NEVER, EVER too old to realign one's thinking, unless one is dead...or just so psychologically out of it they can't figure out how to tie shoelaces either!

But I get what you're saying.
My Dad was a devout Catholic all his life and I wouldn't have asked him, or wanted him, to change. He died just a week ago. He took great comfort from his faith all his life, and for him to have entertained doubts at the end of his life that what he had always held true would have been a great shame, I think.
I agree with Barmaid and I also get what you're saying; however I would like to add that you can only lead a horse to water... Just always keep that in mind :o)
My parent's are Catholic. My father was taught by Jesuits in Haiti (think France 100 years ago.) My Mother converted as an adult from a vague, non-practicing kind of agnostic protestant heritage.

My Mother died - more Catholic than the Pope - less than a year ago. Oddly, she never condemned her children (2 out of 4) who left the Church. (Even more ironically, my brother and I were both on the 'radar' for priesthood.)

In any case, my Father is now turning 75. He was married to my Mother for almost fifty years. It was actually one of those rare but healthy marriages - not perfect - but truly solid. They prayed at their bedside every night of their time together.

Nevertheless, we have had a number of talks about god recently and he is actually starting to come around to a kind of atheist conversion. (I have not been trying to persuade him either way - he has been asking me a good deal about my personal position on the big questions.) He's not really showing signs of a cultural conversion - but an intellectual one at the very least. He is an engineer - graduate cum laude from MIT and seems to be coming to terms with the nature of the cognitive dissonance he has lived with for a very long time now. Pretty amazing.
What do you say back ?
The response I guess depends on the context. I have been down south where that sort of thing enters every sentence in some circles and is a verbal twitch. There is no underlying message or lesson and they are not really imposing anything on me. I either say nothing or thank you.

My home is in a liberal community in the north. The only time I usually hear that is after someone has asked me a question regarding my beliefs and I have answered honestly. If they then tell me that they will pray for me then then I respond honestly that I understand that they are well intentioned but in this context their prayers are condescending and disrespectful of my beliefs. That usually ends the conversation.
Very good one. I will use this next time.

stay strong.
That is a good point about it being offensive only when said in direct reply to our stating our non-belief. Why I never was able to articulate that myself I do not know. So simple and obvious. Thanks for pointing it out!
I simply say "Thank you." I could add that it isn't neccessary, but many times the person is being sincere, so I think of it as polite to say nothing more. I will mention that it isn't necessary if the person offering is obviously not being sincere... Or just pissing me off in general :)
Often, this type of thing can come off as very condescending. When it is well intentioned, I suppose a polite response is best, although it would be nice to smartly reply with one of the aforementioned quotes. I'm personally fond of this one from Frederick Douglass: "I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs."




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