I’ll pray for you

From Mark:

Still alive, here’s Guest Post #5!

The question was “How you feel when people say ‘I’ll pray for you’ because something bad happened to you?”

In the end, it’s a tough question to answer.

On one hand, the people that say these things to me don’t understand that it means nothing to me whereas they firmly believe that their prayers (if they end up doing them at all) accomplish something that they obviously cannot. Of course, I would much rather they try to hire the best doctor/lawyer they could to help me out.

On the other hand, however, knowing that they are intending to pray for me to their god in a way that does not inhibit me from getting better means that they care. They certainly care enough to feel empathy for me in my time of need. It’s not up to them to try to upgrade my situation on their own. They are not expected to pay my hospital bill unless it is their fault to begin with that I’m there.

So, while I would not like to have to deal with a chaplain coming to give me my last rites as I’m dying, I will appreciate every prayer, useful or otherwise, that people can spare. It may not do anything on its own, but I will be comforted by the fact that there is someone out there somewhere who cares about me in my hour of need.

This is post 46 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.


  1. says

    I wish I was asleep on your couch. Or really, asleep anywhere. Mmm, sleep.

    It's a good thought. I generally do the whole "thanks for the thought" thing.

  2. says

    I guess the last magic was sucked out of him. Again, math people get philosophical on beer. I think it's some secret in their brain. We should get the chisels.

    But yeah. This makes sense, and is good, but ultimately, I still get a bit 'grr' when people say they'll pray for me. But that's probably a result of living with fundies; they're constantly 'praying for me' for things like 'to find God' and mess like that.

    Of course, one suggested the thought of getting that prayerbot to pray for Jen for the blagathon. So it's not all bad. Sometimes it can be hilarious.

  3. says

    Personally, I think when a math person drinks beer, he becomes confused. There's no mathematical equation that describes it, other than "beer = yum".

  4. says

    I find it patronising, irritating, and ultimately an empty platitude. It's the opposite of doing something. It makes the pray-er feel better about themselves, but has no practical value. I would rather they said nothing at all.

    Mind you, I don't know anybody who says this kind of thing (I wonder why?). So I've mostly had it from drive-by god botherers, which makes it even less valuable.

    Exactly how bad is the religious thing over there? Does one come across this sort of thing regularly?

  5. says

    I live with one Southern Baptist, and one recovering from the same. I know a third who likes to talk on the phone.

    I am also in Texas.

    So yes, it's that bad for me, but not necessarily everyone else.

  6. says

    Let me just say, as a math person, that math people love beer. And, yes, we get philosophical on beer. Seems perfectly rational to me. But there are a few equations. They have to do with the hoppiness, the body, the sweetness, etc. I honestly can't buy a case of beer without running through equations on calorie and alcohol content and the IBU (the more the better in all areas). Scary, I know…

  7. says

    'Sex is more fun than logic — one cannot prove this, but it "is" in the same sense that Mount Everest "is", or that Alma Cogan "isn't"'

    (from the Holy Grail album, which I don't have, but I vaguely remembered hearing once)

  8. says

    Ooh, people know not to tell me they're praying for me. Or even to bring up religion around me. I tend to tell them what I'm thinking, and it's usually harsh.

  9. says

    Oh, and you youngsters can substitute Michael Jackson for Alma Cogan. I have to substitute John Lennon, but that's my problem.

  10. says

    People say "I'll pray for you" constantly. Where a secular person would say maybe "thinking of you" or "you're in my thoughts" or "Dang, nothing I can do, but I really hope it all works out," a religious person will say "I'll pray for you." Basically the same meaning – I care for you and hope for things to get better – but with the delusion that they're actually helping you other that sending well wishes.

  11. says

    And I think Michael Jackson is still too old for me to understand that quote. Or maybe I'm just really. freaking. tired.

  12. says


    Well I knew they were all singers…just… yeah, I don't need to explain my slowness right now

  13. says

    The fact that they say it constantly is the reason that I tell them what I'm thinking. I really don't have a problem with people saying such things to their coreligionists, but I think it's worth the while to take the time to make them realize just how silly it sounds to some of us. Or, at least, they should realize the import of what they're saying, and at least consider before they say it that not everyone shares their beliefs.

  14. Meredith says

    If it's sincere, a simple "thank-you" usually does it for me.

    If it's some sort of condescending comment, especially made in relationship to my atheism, I usually tell the person that if they have prayers to spare, and they actually think prayer works, they ought to be praying for something more meaningful.

  15. says

    When people say "I'll pray for you" … I think this is probably much worse than I thought – since no one can think of an actual solution.

    But I say "Thanks"

  16. says

    My feelings are similar to if they had said, "Want me to kiss it and make it better?" The thought is appreciated, but the offer is kind of creepy and weird. It's more culturally acceptable, though, so I say "thanks" instead of "no thanks."

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