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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Quite a few Atheists willing to be run over by Christians. That's disheartening.
Yes, Kozz, it is our faint heartedness that leads to being run over. WHY?
Can't we find a way to let them know they are comical?
It's impressive how courteous many of these responses are. I often get the feeling that there is a stereotype of atheists as rude and in-your-face. Here, many of the responses assume good intent and respond in kind. Emily Post would be proud!

I think that the context does make a lot of difference. If it seems well meaning (like, if I just told someone about an ill family member), the "thank you" seems appropriate. If it seems like they are saying it to pass judgement, as in some of the posts, then acknowledging that seems appropriate. Then it depends on whether you want to have an argument, make a point, change a long standing behavior, or just want to move on or get out of the situation.

I have had to pause when someone at work was sick or had a personal disaster, and cards were passed around for everyone's best wishes. People often say on the cards "we are remembering you in our prayers". I usually try to think of something supportive, without stating anything about (non)religious beleif.

Sometimes humor can be helpful, like "While you're at it, could you also pray that I'll win the lottery" or "Could you also pray for some rain". However, I'm usually best at thinking of something to say after I already said the wrong thing, usually an hour later, or the next day, or a year later.
Oops I guess it was me who misread the original post. I assumed the "I will pray for you" was in response to telling someone you were an Atheist. My apologies for my out of context remarks.

It does make a much more interesting question though;)
I understand your feelings about being told "I'll pray for you" when you announce that you're an atheist, but it doesn't really bother me personally at all. I'm not going to say, "Thanks", of course, since the thing that they're praying for doesn't line up with my desires - but I'll just say "Okay...", or "Well, you can do that if you want to." I don't appreciate their prayers, but I understand where they're coming from - I was raised in the Assemblies of God, and I've been exactly where they are, being concerned for a person's soul, etc. So, I see no reason to get hostile. Hostility from atheists wasn't how I made my switch - it was being shown, little by little, how the things I've been taught don't line up with the world around us. Now, if somebody says that they'll pray for me, after I mention that I'm sick, or there's other trouble in my life, then I have no problem with simply saying "Thanks".
When my wife died, I had so much prayer thrown at me that I felt like I was covered in filth. It sure is swell of them to pray to the fellow that, if truly omnipotent, is entirely responsible for her death, I thought. I realize that nothing they said or did could help worth a damn, but they were trying their best. Still, a few of them should've known better. Oddly enough, one of the few people who didn't try to lay a heavy dose of god on me was my wife's pastor, who did know better and showed me a little respect.

I didn't respond to them at all. If I had, the result would've been ugly and probably irreversible.

I guess the best response is to say back to them what they meant to say to you, minus the magical gobbledygook. Something like, "Thanks, I've got your back too," or "It's nice to know you're thinking of me," or "Are you offering to help me out with this?"

Or "A courteously distant thanks to you. I shall follow your lead by re-gifting that steaming pile of crap to someone I'm pretending to care about."
Oh I LOVE that:"Ok doll,you go pray."
I'm going to use that if I ever need to.
I think you'd be surprised how many Xians there are out there who really, truly believe without-a-doubt in the existence of a supernatural deity, especially in the more extremist sects.
The more people who just say "thank you" and let it go, the more the person saying it will assume everyone is in agreement. I know they are generally just trying to be thoughtful. However, I have a friend who's husband has cancer and was getting so frustrated by all the offers of prayer. I suggested she reply, "well, that is very thoughtful, but if you really want to DO something that will help you could ......(fill in the blank)." Probably a bit snarky for some, but it certainly gets the point across.
I agree! Tell people what they can really do to help. They are offering prayer, supposedly as a means of helping, so direct THEIR good intentions to something truly helpful. That will separate the "really want to help" people from the people trying to pass the job onto "god".
That's the problem... When they say that, often there is nothing to fill in the blank. SerIously, what could they have done? The laundry at home? The lawn?
That's the problem... When they say that, often there is nothing to fill in the blank. SerIously, what could they have done? The laundry at home? The lawn?

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