One of my best friends is in a dire financial situation and needs a full time job (long story - suffice it to say, she's not kidding). She sent an email out to her closest friends and asked for us to pray that God sends her that job she so desperately needs. I wanted so badly to tell her that I wouldn't pray for her. I would definitely wish her well and always have, but I won't pray. If and when she gets a job, it'll be because she made it happen.

Yes, I wanted to tell her this, but I won't. In my first blog where I posted my resolutions, one of the major ones was to be true to myself and I will be. However, I don't want to add any other burdens to those she already has right now by coming out as an atheist to her. Maybe it won't bother her or maybe it will, but she needs to focus on the job, not thinking about our friendship or that she feels that I'm bound for hell or whatever. There'll be time enough for truth another day.

I wish I could understand why people ask for prayers. They don't work and they give credit to someone that isn't there. I know that several years ago, I used to pray every morning that my hubby would come home safe from work - I know now that it wasn't God who protected him, but his ability to drive the car safely. I used to pray that God would put his angels around the house to protect it when we went on trips. It wasn't a diety that watched over it, but good locks and our neighbors keeping watch for each other. Prayer won't cure cancer, save a life or take away that odd pinging sound the car is making. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that again... say the words to God and he'd make everything all better. Fortunately, I'm growing up. If I want that pinging sound to go away, I have to take the car to the shop. No one's going to wave a magic wand and fix the problem. It's scary sometimes, but I'm taking responsibility for my life and myself.

For now, I'll just wish my friend luck and offer support. I'm sure that once she lands a job, she'll thank God for getting it for her. I'll know better. I know that it was my friend, not Jesus, who filled out all those long application forms, spent hours spreading her resumes around the city, or undergoing endless interviews. She'll give God the credit when she should be giving herself that pat on the back for her hard work. I know who I'll give the credit to.

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Comment by Loren Miller on June 28, 2010 at 7:58am
Asking friends for prayers sounds like a form of networking to me. If she wants to be practical about it (oh, heaven forefend!), tell her to join LinkedIn, build a profile, start building a network of former work associates and friends and see if THAT finds her some prospects!

Sort of a 21st century equivalent of "two hands working do more than 1000 hands clasped in prayer!"
Comment by Michael J. Maloney on June 28, 2010 at 7:45am
Be honest with your friend and tell her you support her quest for employment. There is no need to reference gawd or any other magical solution. That said buckle down and try removing other magic words such as wish, luck, hope and faith from your messaging and spoken word. Wishing and hoping are as invalid as gawd. These are words suggest an investment in magical thinking without action will provide answers - in this case a job. I know it is difficult. Our language and culture is polluted with religious magic words. It's almost impossible to eradicate all the cradle-to-grave indoctrination from our vocabularies. Practice self-censorship.
Comment by Whalehugger on January 9, 2009 at 9:38pm
Adam: She is proactively doing the search and has been working several months to get a job. She's been papering around her area of Atlanta, filling out applications and so on. She just asks for prayers from her friends and I can't do that. Also I can't lie and say that I'm praying for her. Best I can do is wish her the best and be there as a sounding board if she needs it.

We did do one other thing - we sent her some money to help tide her over. She didn't ask, we just offered. It wasn't a hand out, just something to take care of a car payment for a month while she kept food on the table for her kids. Things are a bit more stable now and hopefully she can hang in there until she can get that FT job she needs. I feel that she's the type of friend that would do the same thing if the roles were reversed. It felt good that we were able to do more than just say "I'll pray for you".
Comment by Adam Johnson on January 9, 2009 at 9:21pm
Its not that you should tell her you won't pray for her. Just explain to her that waiting for prayers to be answered is not proactive. She needs to vigorously search herself for a job. Prayer allieviates responsibility.
Comment by Diego on January 9, 2009 at 7:39pm
What you can do is write in response telling your friend that you hope she finds a new job that suit her necessities, that you can help by asking people you know about jobs, by looking if there is some business hiring, helping her building a resume, etc. But don't mention god, in either good or bad way. As she reads your letter she will appreciate what you offer to do for her, but would be very unwise to forsake that if she doesn't see any mention of god. But that'll be up to her.

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