When someone comments that they will pray for you, what do you say back? Even when I was a pretending christian I felt awkward when people said they would pray for me....

Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer. - Anonymous

and another one I am pseudo-quoting since I can't find a reference at the moment........

Helping hands are far more useful than praying ones.

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They will claim that they mean well but they are only patting themselves on the back for being superior and patronizing you. They need to know that the remark is NOT taken well. They will feel a little sadness when the inquisition tortures you (the catholic office of the inquisition is still active and would love to help you confess if they could) but they will be assured that it is for your own good. Check out the recent stupid remarks from the vatican's own chief exorcist.

We are safe now because religion has been driven back. Help keep it that way.
I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt on the issue before I jump down their throat. I don't like it when people jump down my throat for something I thought was honestly rather innocuous so I try not to do that to other people.

Also, this should go without saying but if I'm reasonably sure a person saying "I'll pray for you" doesn't really mean well then I revise my response to "I'd prefer that you don't."
A person who says, 'I'll pray for you', is a person who regards you as flawed, incomplete and immoral. That person needs to know that her/his statement is not taken well. You have a duty to your society to indicate that is some way.
Repeating what you've already said once isn't helpful.
I have had this one in two very different contexts. The well intentioned "I will pray for you" because of some problem in my life, I tend to ignore or answer with a polite smile.

But, most of the time this phrase is a reaction by a religious person who finds out I am Atheist. In this context, they are using the phrase as a Christian version of "F**k You!

One of my friends responds to that one with: "I will think for you."
Although Becca has chastised me, might I, with perhaps her tolerance, ask, golly, how nice-nice do we need to be?

Let Becca be indulgent: she is young and doesn't remember the inquisition and all the revolting things they did to ladies then.
Oh, Bill, I see that thou art truly a saint! That halo over you head proclaims it and we fall prostrate at your feet adoringly. ( I am a silly person and my stuff needs to be read as either simperingly absurd or rarely profound )
Eu costumo brincar delicadamente dizendo se não poderia no lugar da oração me fosse dado ,dinheiro ou chocolate.
Wish I could but I can't. Anyone translate this for me?
According to Google translate, it is: "I usually play gently saying it could not in the place of prayer I was given, money or chocolate."
Well said.
I usually respond as many others have suggested - by thanking the good intention that usually lies behind the statement, but expressing that I do not appreciate the idea of prayer, do not think it will be effective, and that I would prefer if they did not do it on my behalf.

I think this is a firm but compassionate position.

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