How do you respond to “I’ll pray for you”?

I’ve never been shy about sharing my struggles with mental illness. Good, bad, and ugly — I put it out there through artwork, speeches, and writing. I would occasionally get an “I’ll pray for you” to which I say “thanks” and walk away. It’s annoying but that’s probably the safest response considering where I live.

Don’t even get me started on “thoughts and prayers”. That’s a bunch of bullshit. Every time I see a column of “thoughts and prayers” comments on Facebook I cringe. Then I go back to see if there is actually any way to help the situation — not by prayer but by action. 

Praying is a way to pretend to care but actually do nothing. Prayer doesn’t help anyone; it only makes the person praying feel better about themself — like they’re being so caring they might score a point with god bringing them one step closer to heaven. Wow. Putting it like that explains just how selfish praying is. The person praying helps themself while others continue to suffer.

When I was growing up I remember all of the prayers at school functions and I was always infuriated about it. (I went to a public school BTW.) So maybe I already had a chip on my shoulder about this topic.

How do you respond when someone says they’ll pray for you or offer you thoughts and prayers?


  1. mathman85 says

    When people tell me that they’ll pray for me, my typical response is “If you must.” Every once in a while, though, if I’m feeling particularly salty, I’ll say something along the lines of “I’d prefer that you do something useful instead.”

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    As with many verbal offerings, it depends on context and who’s doing the offering. It varies from “fuck off” to “thank you”. If it sounds like a genuine expression of concern for me, I have no desire to be insulting or condescending.

  3. StonedRanger says

    Since I am a long time atheist I get rather fed up with the condescending tone that usually goes along with the ‘I’ll pray for you’. My response ‘Thanks, I will think for you’. The looks I get, priceless.

  4. blf says

    I’m either rude — e.g., laugh and say something like “no fecking thanks for doing nothing useful” or “require the magic sky faeries to feck herselves” (use of her and the plural are deliberate); or I throw a curveball (to use an USAlien idiom) — e.g., “and flying giraffes shall descend from the volcanoes to nest in bakeries” or “the turtle moves!” Or, on occasion, fake not being able to understand English.

    Which approach I use probably depends on my mood and how annoyed I am. Being rude is, of course, not always a constructive strategy (and I suppose could be dangerous in some situations).

    However, I have no recollection of the insult — which is what I consider it to be — ever being used here in France.

  5. dangerousbeans says

    I would probably say “sure, whatever”, “ok”, or similar. They’re not saying anything i need to really interact with

  6. says

    The intent behind their words is important. When they say “I’ll pray for you”, is it akin to “I hope you win the game!” or “nice hat!”? Or do they mean “I hope you burn in hell” and “I”ll pray for you. . .to die.”

    If it’s the empty platitudes from empty heads, responding to it accomplishes as much as correcting poor English (“grammar nazi!”), so I just ignore it. If I know their intent is the latter, I’ll respond, “And I hope satan takes your immortal soul and makes you suffer for eternity”. Occasionally one will actually freak out as if those words had any efficacy.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    As others have said, it’s context dependent, but in most contexts I’ve usually gone with “HA!”. If they like, they can interpret it as “oh! You’re going to do that? OK!” rather than “you fucking idiot”.

  8. Sean Boyd says

    I’ve said, more than once, “And I thought we were getting along nicely!” But mostly, I respond based on intent.

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