Nonbelievers: How do you feel about people praying for you?

A guy I know, somewhere in between an acquaintance and a friend, just lost his grandfather. I’m a Christian. As far as I know, he isn’t, though he’s never made any “I wish all Christians would FOAD” statements or anything.

I just sent him an e-mail telling him that I was sorry to hear of his loss, and that I was . . . praying for comfort for him and his family. I deliberated over this last point for about half an hour. I’m not interested in forcing my religion on others, nor am I interested in using a family tragedy as an opportunity to evangelize. I just wanted him to know, for whatever it’s worth.

I mean, if I was going through something, and a friend said she’d done a magic dance for me, or constructed a voodoo doll in my honor, even though I’d think her efforts were wasted, I’d be genuinely touched that she made any sort of effort to do something that she believed would help me.

Now, however, I think I should have just said my prayer, let it do whatever it was or wasn’t going to do, and kept quiet. What additional good will come from me telling him? Might even have pissed him off.

Anyway, nonbelievers, what do you think when you hear someone’s prayed for you?

Other-it would depend on what they were praying for.

I assume they mean well in their own way.
But since it’s never been demonstrated that prayer works, I’m not expecting any benefit.

To me it’s like saying “Good luck”.

When my parents passed, both Christian and atheist friends were very comforting. (But practical advice and sympathy mattered far more to me than prayer.)

Good point, Czarcasm. Assuming they’re praying for something you’d see as a positive.

I’d be pretty pissed that someone was praying for me to rupture my spleen, whether I believed in it or not.

Positive thoughts are positive thoughts. I generally say “Thank You.”

Who knows? They might be right. :smiley:

Depending on whether my mood is charitable or not, I vary between the 2d and 3d choices. Today I chose 3.

When my dad had his stroke, one of his cousins asked if she could “pray for him.” He said, “Sure,” figuring it couldn’t hurt, and if it made her happy, no big deal. He was a little surprised when she showed up at his house with a couple of friends, and they proceeded to pray out loud in his presence. Said it felt a bit silly.

I remember visiting him in ICU, and he mentioned the priest having visited. He never was big on attending church as my mom was. I asked about that, and he said after he had his stroke and was in the ICU the idea of god, heaven, and all that seemed a lot more real to him - but as every day went on, it was becoming less and less so.

Closest I’ve ever come to a foxhole . . .

I take it in the spirit in which it’s offered. In the example from the OP, that’s fine, and it’s a nice gesture.

I picked “nice but pointless gesture”, then I read Czarcasm’s post. If they’re praying for me to get well or ace my big interview or whatever, nice gesture.

If they’re praying for my immortal soul because I’m going to hell for denying the divinity of Christ Savior, remove the “nice” part.

I’m not sure what I believe, and I appreciate the good thoughts. When I was very sick a few years ago one of my friends told me that her mother asked if I would object to having Muslim prayers said for me. I was touched and told her that I would be very pleased for this to be done.

it would sort of depend on what god(s) or spirit(s) they were praying to.

Not an “unbeliever” in the sense that I do have a spiritual path, but not Christian.

If the offer/statement is made with a genuine intent that their gesture provide me comfort and support, fantastic.

Too often, however, “I’ll pray for you” has been used toward me to mean “I’ll pray that you realize your mistake of not being Christian, and change to be just like me.” The protesters outside the abortion clinic where I used to work would yell “I’ll pray for you” at me with this latter intent, and sometimes people will say it when they find out I’m 1) Wiccan or 2) liberal. That intent pisses me off.

It depends on how they say it.

If it’s as you did, where you were basically saying you wished your friend well, then I would be touched*. I get that kind of thing all the time from relatives and I know they mean it in the best way possible.

On the other hand, I’ve often heard it used as a “nice” way of being nasty. For instance, if someone finds out I’m an atheist, or that I’m in favor of legal abortions or raping puppies or whatever, then they might glare at me and say, “Well! I am going to PRAY for you!” Of course, the unspoken implication is “…because you’re going to burn in Hell, you evil sinner!” That pisses me off a bit.
*If the person offering the prayer is someone who knows that I don’t believe, though, I might be a little :dubious:. Sure, pray if you think it will help, but if you know I don’t, why tell me? Why not just say, “I’m thinking of you, hoping you find comfort, etc.”. It could come off a little evangelistic, particularly if they’re the type to follow up with either, “Praise the Lord, my prayers for you were answered!” or “Don’t worry; God has a plan, even though we may not understand it.”

OTOH, I know that it’s just reflexive for many people - I even say it sometimes, as a figure of speech - and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to feel like they had to censor themselves. The bottom line is that it really depends on who it’s coming from and what they mean by it.

I wavered between “thoughtful but useless” and “don’t care.”

For me, it kind of depends. If, say, a relative dies and someone says they’ll keep my family in their prayers, hey, thanks for the kind thoughts. I know where it’s comeng from, even if it’s not my method.

If, however, you’re like DH’s family and you have to bray constantly about how you’re praying that Jeebus will turn us from our evil ways lest we burn in hellfire…no thanks. Do it if you must but keep it to your damn self.

I look at prayer as a way for the pray-er to feel better, not the recipient. If it makes them feel better to pray for me, that’s fine. It’s no skin off my nose.

I’m a Christian, but the question has made me think “What if someone of a different religion (say, Islam) offered to pray for me?” I think I’d be flattered. But it’s a little different, because I do believe that God hears the prayers of everyone (not just Christians).

We had a neighbor who wanted to come in and pray at my mom when she was dying. My father told her no thanks.

Likewise, I’m Jewish, but I’ll take prayers from non-Jewish friends. I’m not arrogant enough to think that God only listens to a small fraction of the world’s population.

Pretty much this.

I know that people often feel powerless in the face of a loved one’s troubles. Praying gives them a way to do something helpful and positive (in their minds) and eases their stress, so I don’t begrudge them that. It’s also nice to think that they care about me and are willing to petition their version of Og on my behalf.

I vote for option 1.5 - sort of bugs me but not a big deal.

It’s passive aggressive behavior to tell people you are praying for them. Sure, ofttimes it is meant as a well-wish by religious people and I understand that and don’t take offense but … that exact phrase has been used as a bludgeon enough times it makes me cringe. Most of the time someone tells me they will pray for me as response to them finding out that I didn’t believe the same way as them. Why do you have to tell me that you are praying for me anyway? What is it that you want me to do that you can’t just come out and tell me?

When my father died a few people felt the need to tell me they were praying for him … What did they mean? Did they think he was a bad person and needed their pure selves to intervene? Were they hinting that they didn’t like the way he lived and so their god didn’t like him? I really couldn’t think of a response to what seemed to me like a very backhanded comment. I hope they meant it as a simple comment as I would hate to find out that these people were so crass as to try pushing their religion on someone who had just lost a loved one.

Bottom line - In times of grief I just don’t care what your religion is and would rather not be involved in your practice at that time. Saying you prayed isn’t really going out of your way very much anyway. Making a voodoo doll and preforming the “entry into heaven dance”, that I would probably appreciate as it took time and effort.