I was just looking at an RSS link on Friendly Atheist and it made me want to ask this question here. How do you feel about prayer or blessings from people regarding a situation in your life. Because we're older than "some", we can often be more tolerant of this because (perhaps) we've lived much of our lives through a time when questions of this sort weren't asked. My husband and I move to Tulsa from New Orleans with our kid 6 weeks before Katrina struck. It's no wonder we've made few friends here (in the crotch of the Bible Belt) - I got so tired of hearing from people, upon seeing our plates or licenses, that we were blessed, or that god had other plans for us. To me, it simply meant that god didn't give a shit about everyone else we cared for. I actually find it presumptuous and insulting, perhaps as a result of EVERY response I got from my retorts (which were given with as much care and thoughtfulness as possible). What do you guys think?

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I just go along with it if I get caught in a social situation with a lot of religious people.
That must have been heartbreaking to see all that loss, and then not be able to find like minded people to turn to for sympathy.
Honestly, I'd just thank them for their concern and move along ...
I have developed some stock phrases to cope with situations like this. I don't like being confronted with someone else's need: their need to explain death, random natural violence etc. When people try to tell me the "good news" I tell them "I am sorry you were lied to, even sorrier that you have not been able to escape the lie, but I do not wish to share in your resultant pathology." When people tell me they will pray for me, I thank them and offer to think for them when they have the need. (That one often gets blank looks for the first moments and then they get it. How they handle it is illuminating.)
If someone says they'll pray for me or something like that, I think I usually just say, "Thank you," but I don't think I've ever been told I am blessed. My mother is a wild bird rehabber in the bible belt, and she always gets people blessing her and saying she's doing god's work. She just says, "Thank you." I would have a hard time saying, "Well, gee. God must be falling down on the job."

The situation where I have felt uncomfortable is when someone else has a dying, recently deceased, or very ill family member, and they send out an e-mail thanking everyone for their prayers, etc. I am the chairperson of a large and aging community band, and this has happened at least 5 times just this year. I feel as though I have to respond as the voice of the band, so I just say things like, "We're all thinking about you," or "I'm sorry for your loss." Also, finding non-religious sympathy cards is not that easy.
When people ask for prayers, I say that I'll be thinking of them. I can honestly hope the best for my fellow humans without thinking that it does much good except to perhaps provide some comfort.

As for when people try to pray over me, I decline if asked. I suspect they feel the need to pray on their own time anyway, but at least they can leave me out of it. In situations where that is not possible, I say "Thanks, I appreciate your good wishes." That acknowledges the intent without supporting the method.
It definitely depends on the context. If I am in a time of difficulty and someone tells me they will pray for me I'm fine with that. To me it's the same as saying that I'll be in their thoughts, no more or less meaningful.

What bugs me is when someone thanks god for things that god had nothing to do with. Giving god credit for things that we humans do has always been a really big peeve of mine, even back when I was a somewhat believer.
I sometimes just ignore it - but if the person is particularly irritating I start the following conversation:

Them - I will pray for you...

Me - Let me ask you this - do you believe god is omniscient and knows everything past, present and future?

Them - Well...yes.

Me - Do you believe that god is immutable - unchanging?

Them - Uh...yes

Me - Then if god is immutable and omniscient your prayers are worthless - he isn't going to change his mind no matter what you do.

Them - Uh....


That is usually the last time I will get the 'I will pray for you' from that particular person.

If a Christian friend says they will pray for me during tough times, then I take it as a gesture of friendship and support, but if it is from someone I don't know (which is usually from someone who is praying for me to find god) then the gloves come off and I verbally eviserate (sp?) them because they are deliberately being disrespectful.
We recently had a horrendous revelation about some modes of christianity. A friend of ours (whose wife is a staunch christian) lost his 6 year old daughter to e-coli. During her struggle, the site updating her progress was filled with christian dogma left and right. We overlooked that - fine - we understood the situation. The horrific part was a specific post by the mother which stated that perhaps god was waiting to heal her daughter until all of us accepted him into our lives. I find that reprehensible. In other words, it was OUR fault she died.
I know what you mean. The day I was leaving to go to my parent's and sit by my dying father's bedside, my devout Baptist neighbour (who KNEW that my husband and I are both second generation Atheists) asked me "what if your father asks for god?" I was stunned that she would ask that! When I said "he won't" she persisted, completely ignoring my growing distress and agitation!
I too am in the Bible Belt, so it's just assumed that everyone living here is Christian, My closer friends know better..I've made it clear I'm atheist, and even though most don't agree, we have that mutual respect. Last year while going through cancer therapy, I met loads of people telling me they would pray for me, I took each with a simple thank you. Once I came out of treatment cleared of cancer, I was told "God has given me a second chance". The thing is, I know these people mean well, so i allow them to feel good about their thoughts, even though I know it's so much hogwash. I make a stand during proselytizing, but when the sheeple are just being nice, I am too. A note to Scott...trust me, you are not the only working class shmoe here...I'm a Tech school graduate, but that doesn't mean we're not able to THINK. I suspect, like me, you are a little higher on the IQ scale than those you work with.
I have to say that the face to face encounters I have had in my life, have been rare (I can count them on my fingers) and I have lived in two countries (Britain and Canada). Most of my battles have been in cyber space on another site.
This is a tough one, for me... It is pretty closely tied to the other thread in this group on respect. "Can I respect someone who believes - with all their heart - in the tooth fairy?" ( or any other mythical creatures/ deities ) For most people I fall on the side of a simple thank you or nod. It is not worth the discussion and people that need the "tooth fairy" are probably fragile anyway. Their prayers may be "for me" but I know who is going to feel better after the prayers - and it isn't me... Why take that away.

However if they decide to convert me, or "god forbid - gotta love the religious cliches" ring my doorbell, they are fare game. I battle my best, until they relent and go away, where they undoubtedly ,,, pray for me:)




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