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 the prior speech. If the person was arguing with me over going to hell or some crap like that I say something more offensive but not directly offensive... as in "How original." or something like that. On a normal occasion I simply say, "Thanks." and carry on my way. It doesn't hurt me that they'd pray for me.... actually makes me feel rather good. Only because to them, the person they rely on most is going to help me. Shows they care to an extent about my well being. Be it true or not..... well, that old phrase: "It's the thought that counts."
come on now - you have to be engaging with your responses.
how about
"then i award you an F for Futility!"
"Why? am i a starving aids infested child in war-torn africa? oh wait...thats right...you dont give a fark about them!"
"Great! and when Zeus answers your prayer, i will be sure to thank him."
I like what Daniel Dennett said to friends who were going to pray for him when he was seriously ill, "Would you sacrifice a goat, too?"
Ha ha...found you in here Hal...that's a good one!
Skimming through this thread, I'm awakened to the fact that simply letting it slide is, in many cases, enabling the delusion and being its doormat. I'm thinking I won't let it slide so much in the future. But it still depends on context.

- Dying person, etc: This is ultimately their belief and if that's what makes them happy they can believe in the tooth fairy for all I care. Sometimes, it's just not the time to have that theist/atheist debate.

- Person who sincerely wishes me well (I'm sick, I need to get that job): these are the ones I don't think I'll just let slide so much as I have done. "I'm an Atheist. But if that's your way of wishing me well, thanks! I'll take all the well-wishes I can get!

- Well-meaning but passive-aggressive: The person who knows I'm an Atheist and uses "I'll pray for you" as a backhanded insult to my Atheism. I'll offer to return the favor. "Thanks, and I'll pray to Pan/Allah/Lucifer/Mithras/[some other deity who will confuse or offend that person] for you." If they balk, "I don't believe in _______!" I'll return that favor too. "I don't believe in your god either. What's the difference?"

- Outright insulting: "I'll pray for you (to see the light and convert to my religion)." "I'll pray for you (because I so loathe you as to see you as mentally ill or something)." Those, I'm never quite sure how to respond. But reading through this thread, I'll start trying the response suggested by Nightfall a few pages back:

Holier than thou: "I'll pray for you."

Me (thanks to Nightfall): "And I shall think for you."
Person who sincerely wishes well: I have a friend who a few years ago became seriously Christian. I was having problems and she asked if she could pray for me. I said "I don't think it does anything, but if you want to, you can". I figure it's what she is conditioned to do in a certain situation and she means well and it at least won't make anything worse.
To sum up and/or paraphrase the best retorts I've seen here and elsewhere - to be applied to the context:

1. And I will think for you.
2. Thanks, I need all the luck I can get!
3. But that's unreliable.
4. I'd rather have a dollar.
5. Could you buy me a drink instead?
6. No thanks, I don't want to tinker with the Master Plan.
7. Pray for me to do what, exactly?
8. On your knees and everything?
9. Go to hell!
10. Why, do you think I can't do it for myself?
11. If God is all knowing and all powerful, then he already knows what I want. Therefore praying would be kind of useless wouldn't it? Even a little insulting to God? Kind of like a spouse nagging at you to do a chore you already have on your to-do list?
What do I say when someone says they're praying for me?

Well, it depends on what they're praying for. If they're praying for my health and welfare, I simply reply, "Thanks for your concern." If, however, I know they're doing it as an indirect insult at my atheism, I point out that their prayers will be no more effective than asking Santa Claus for presents on Xmas.

Most often, theists tell me that they're praying for my reconversion to Christianity. In this case, I say, "I will take this as further proof that I'm right and you're wrong. The longer you pray and the longer nothing happens increasingly destroys the credibility of your religion and the idea that anything can be achieved through prayer. Thank you for helping to prove that atheism is the sounder philosophy."
June, I hope this month has passed decently for you and your husband. I am sorry for your illnesses!

a stranger, but one who cares!

Nightfall for the win! Like most people have said, a lot depends on context. If they're trying to wish me luck or think that they're being comforting, I just say, "Thank you". If they're doing the, "I know you're going to burn in hell for all eternity and I think that's just swell, but I'll show my compassion by offering to pray for your black, benighted soul." I usually go with, "Oh, don't go to any trouble on my account." It seems to throw them off, somewhat. If they want to get really nasty about it, I think Nightfall's got the best come-back.
Wow, i have read a lot of interesting answers here. This has always bugged me. People don't say to me I will pray for you, but they always tell me God bless you and it always has bothered me to just accept it. Now I know they mean well. Most don't know I am atheist so I know they mean well. I guess next time I will say I don't believe in God but thank you for the well intentions. Yes, I will say that now.




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