Atheists, how do you deal with prayer?

I have found that I do not want to offend the people I love and generally go along with it without comment. How do you deal with people asking if they can "pray for you?"

Initially, (I'm a fairly new unbeliever) I felt offended and wanted to take a stance against being a part of something I do not believe in. Now, I see it more as I am standing there doing nothing for a minute because it makes my family or friend feel better. Which is fine, because I love those people no matter how nutty they are. But where/how do you draw the line without being rude/hateful/disrespectful?

16 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Best answer

    That is a good question.

    I frequently have people wanting to pray for me and I usually smile and tell them that's okay they needn't bother or just don't say anything. Of course when my sister does it I tell her to either don't or at least don't tell me about it because I find it personally offensive.

    I have had some wanting to pray for me right then and there. Those times I do ask them politely not to and tell them that it would make me uncomfortable. If they persist I am honest and tell them that I would find it offensive. If I am going through some difficulty I dont need to try and make someone else feel better by believing they are helping by making a show of their piety.

    Others usually say it because they don't know what else to say and even though I know it is a waste of time they honestly believe it would help so at least the gesture on their part is genuine and I can respect that.

    I am in the military and of course there are times that we are required to participate in ceremonies that have everyone supposed to be praying, especially when the chaplin, who is getting paid valuable money that could be spent in something useful, is reciting some mumbo jumbo written down for him. I remove my head dress and stand there waiting quietly and respectfully for the side show to finish.

    The moment of silence I spend the time thinking about and honoring my brothers who fell in order to guarantee you the right to pray in public and believe what you want to believe no matter how silly it seems to me.

    And yes I will be willing to fall to guarantee you that right too.

  • Sídhe
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    If someone wants to pray for you, take it in the spirit it is offered.

    Just because you two don't believe the same way does NOT make it okay for you to get offended and "take a stance" at a kind gesture.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    My family prayers before each meal, so I'm around whenever I'm with them. I have no problem with it. However, if someone asks to pray for me specifically I get a little uncomfortable because they do it right then and there. It's a little weird for me, but I allow it. If it makes them feel better, then by all means, I don't care. Now, if they go on and on forever, then I'll politely stop them because I have other things to do with my time. :)

  • 8 years ago

    This is the way I see it:

    when someone asks, "can I pray for you." that is obviously what they believe to be helpful and are trying to help you in the way they believe will help you. I usually just say, "I appreciate your concern. Thank you." Because it is what they believe I respect that. Just as I would expect them to respect the fact that i do not pray...although that, unfortunately, is not always the case.

    Now when people ask me to pray for them...that is a bit trickier. I don't think I should pray for them, because honestly, I would be partaking in a religious practice that I do not find legitimate or believe in so I feel as if it would be disrespectful in the religion itself to partake in that practice. when this situation comes up I usually just say "I will keep you in my thoughts." that has seemed to work so far. :-/ *crosses fingers*

    hope this helps!

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  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    you either thank them and try to get out of the conversation

    or you just act like a christian until they go away

    but you don't necessarily have to debate everyone who comes along to wish you well.

    but, you do have the right to say, no, I'd rather you didn't pray for me.

    the problem there is that it never gets them to go away,

    then they want to talk about it and try to convert you , etc.

    sometimes what's really best is for the conversation to be as short as possible.

    NOTE: I think it was dawkins who said his response was "thanks, I'll think for you"

  • 8 years ago

    If their intention is good, I generally thank them for two simple reasons ~

    if praying for my well being brings them comfort, awesome, and if they are praying for my well being, it can't hurt to have that positive energy floating around out there!

    If they want to pray that I'll accept their beliefs as my own,

    I generally tell them not to waste their energy.

  • sasha
    Lv 4
    8 years ago

    i think others can pray for you all they want. that's their belief. if the intention is to send you good energy, they are doing it in their own way. if they say they will pray for you in a patronizing way like you need help. tell them to do what they need to do, but that you don't have to know about it, because it does sound patronizing.

    so it depends on what people mean.

  • c3pnis
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    I see no reason to take offense, they are only trying to help. If someone wants to pray for me, then great, I'll thank them.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    I would say I that I am an atheist politely.Then I would inquire what the problem was and try to cheer the person up.

  • 8 years ago

    I am going to pray for you infidel! whether you like it or not! you seriously have issues, and you seriously need it ! Bahahahhaha!

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