Do non-believers prayers count?

If a good friend, a devout christian, asks me to pray for a sick relative knowing that I’m not a believer, will those prayers count?
How about if I pray, just in case, for soldiers in Iraq?
I guess my question is, would a loving god ignore my prayers for someone else just because I don’t believe he/she exists?
BTW; If there was a god, she/he’d love to have me as a disciple because I’m such a good guy. Really!

I was an atheist for the first 37 years of my life. I am now a Christian. I occasionally tried to pray when I was an atheist, and I’m quite certain that my prayers “counted” (meaning that they were heard and considered, not that they were automatically granted). I must say, though, that my atheistic prayers lacked the intensity and earnestness that I now experience when I pray, as if I were a deaf person trying to sing.

Let’s just say I’m pretty certain that atheist’s prayers matter as much as anyone else’s.

mangeorge, you crack me up! You’re like my sister, who thinks she’s going to hell because she’s an atheist! (I love my sister dearly and understand completely why she thinks this way. If I’d been through what she has, I might think the same.)

So I’ll say unequivocally that a loving god would accept your prayers, whether you believe or not.

From a therapeutic standpoint, the most important thing is for the sick relative to know that others are praying for/thinking of/sending positive thoughts to him/her.

If there is a god, I don’t believe that he or she will ignore a heart-felt prayer due to you being a non-believer.

I am not a believer. If someone asks me to pray, or I feel that my promise of prayer would be of some comfort to a friend or acquaintance, I pray. Not as a “just in case I am wrong” measure, but to keep my word to the person I have promised to pray for. Keeping my word is a matter of ethics; not spirituality. I pray (or concentrate on healing/helpful thoughts) because I care about the human in question- not an unseeable entity.

That’s close to how I feel, but I’m willing to consider that I may be wrong. It’s even possible, I think, that because of my open-mindedness, my prayers may carry more weight than those of a believer.
I seek the thoughts of christian devotees. Or any others who have a belief system. Anyone who believes without seeing, actually. The faithful.
My friend says yes, but I suspect that’s because he thinks I may be convertable. Ha!
I think I’m more agnostic than athiest.
So, can I bring our people home by sharing my distress with a higher power, hmm?

I agree with QED. Your prayers will be equally as efficacious as any true believer’s, so don’t worry. Your friend will appreciate it.

That’s so nice of you both to say that, just come out and say that in both cases nothing will happen in your opinion.

Prayers only work for those that believe in God not a god, and if you don’t they don’t. Going along with the the request might help the person you do it for emotionaly.

I really think it depends on what you are praying for. I think God hears the prayers of non-believers/agnostics. However, I think he takes into consideration devotion to him when he’s answering.

That being said, I think the selfless prayers of non-believers are definitely taken into consideration. If someone is praying (possibly in spite of their own beliefs) for the health or welfare of another person, I think God listens more carefully to those prayers that the selfish prayers of a believer (Please, God, make me rich, etc).

There is no evidence that prayers work, either by believers or non-believers.

If you pray for people in Iraq, which God do you expect to answer?

There is evidence (as freckafree says) that people who are cheerful recover better, so if they like the idea people are praying for them, that will help. (God is not involved.)

That answer is easy. It’s always God and never the false god. A false god is anything worshiped besides God. Your belief is that God is who you believe and the rest are wrong and going straight to Hell. In my reality the Muslems are infadels going to Hell. In their case they’re mistaken about me. You can’t have a faith and concede this point in a compromise. You can at least let them go to Hell without speeding them along. Unfortunately some faiths feel they need to kill those they don’t convert. I’m going to try to not talk on this again, to keep this thread out of GD.

Seriously though-- IMHO, if someone invented an infallible Lie Detector, strapped you to it, and asked you if you really believed any of that nonsense–and told you that they would kill you if the machine showed that you lied–you’d deny the whole childish song-and-dance in a heartbeat.

I believe that:

*People go to extraordinary lengths to trick themselves into believing things that will give them comfort.

People go to even greater lengths to save their own lives.*

I’m trying to present the reasoning why a person that compromises on their faith doesn’t have it, and is lying to themselves. Nothing more nothing less. Maybe using the term belief demonstrates the point better. What you say you believe is obivously not so, if you can change it for the sake of other’s beliefs. Your God, or their god, you can’t compromise and have it both ways. To do so is to not have a true faith in your God.

God is not a vending machine.

Badger Him enough, and you don’t get what you want. Prayer is not a means of affecting the physical world.

That said, if you pray for someone, theist or not, I believe that God hears you. Your prayers serve to focus your own attention on the person for whom you are praying. They also serve to illustrate or define a connection between you and God and the person for whom you are praying.

If you don’t believe in God, it’s a tiny bit disingenuous to agree to pray for someone; however, it’s excusable if you want to put the asker’s mind at ease. Why in the world would you want to burden someone’s heart with your own petty agenda when a friend is suffering (unless you’re Der Trihs, of course)?

BUT, if you do get on your knees and pray for someone, and you’re an atheist or an agnostic, perhaps that’s the first step towards God- admitting that prayer has an effect- if not on the outcome you desire, but on you, the supplicant.

Pray for your friends. God doesn’t do what you tell Him, but that doesn’t mean that nothing happens.

I realise you believe your God is the true one.
So does everyone else.
Does your God answer your prayers?

What evidence have you for all of this?

But then nothing happens, since we agree that prayer doesn’t affect the world.
Exactly the same as if God didn’t exist…

Which God am I praying to?
If God doesn’t do what we tell him, what happens?
Wouldn’t I be better off helping someone actively rather than praying?

Moving thread from IMHO to Great Debates.

Back when I was just a nipper, and a Southern Baptist to boot, it was dogma that the only unforgivable sin was disbelief. So, as far as that god is concerned, unbelievers’ prayers mean nothing.

Or, to rephrase and to answer the OP: yes! The effectiveness of a prayer from a heretic and a devoted theist carry exactly the same weight.