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"i'm Praying For You."


TheMathGuy
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More family controversy! Ugh!

 

So recently on Facebook, I had a family member (Remember my brother who keeps sending me apologetic links? Well, this is his wife.) reply to a comment thread about a job interview I was supposed to have that I went to and no one was there (turns out I went to the wrong room 405--this particular building had more than one--damn confusing!) Anyway, she posted "sad we will be praying that you will find a job". Now at first I didn't plan on saying anything, but later on in this same thread I posted about how I was finally able to find room 405 after all and was able to reschedule and have the job interview after all, and she posted "thats good we still will be praying that you get the job". At this point it irritated me enough to post the response "How I wish prayer worked! I do appreciate your concern, but as you probably know by now I don't believe in the existence of the supernatural and so I'm not counting on any miracles. If I get a job it will be because of my own effort."

 

Then, because I wondered about the possibility of other Christian friends doing the same thing in the future, I posted a note to my facebook profile titled "Praying for me?":

I am posting this as a note rather than a private message because I think it applies or could potentially apply to several people who know me on facebook:

 

I recently had a friend and family member twice post a comment that she was praying for me on a recent facebook comment thread of mine. Now I appreciate that she is concerned about my job search, and wants to do something to help (although she lives several states away, doesn't know the details of my education well enough to be a job reference, and realistically there is nothing she can possibly do to help me in my job search; nor do I expect or ask her to do anything to help me in my job search). Also I'm not going to tell anyone NOT to pray for me, since what you do in your own private life is really none of my business. However, when it comes to commenting to me that you're praying for me, please understand the following: I do not believe in the existence of the supernatural, and knowing you're praying for me is about as meaningless to me as if you said you were stroking your lucky rabbit's foot for me, or you were casting a magic circle for me. Furthermore, reminding me that you are praying for me implies that you think I am still a believer, and so I will naturally feel the desire to remind you that I am not.

 

Again, feel free to do whatever you think will help me on your own private time. But don't assume I share your philosophy and converse with me as if I did, or I will feel compelled to remind you that I don't.

 

A long discussion ensued, and at one point my brother asked "Why are some people offended when someone tells them that you are praying for them? At the most basic level, they are simply showing that they genuinely care about you. How is this a problem?" and I tried to explain about how doing so showed a lack of respect for our differences of belief, and if they were doing it to get some sort of acknowledgement or verbal "pat on the back" I obviously couldn't give it.

 

Now I'm beginning to wonder if I should have ever said anything at all. This whole thing seems to have gotten blown way out of proportion, but it does irritate me when somebody who KNOWS I am not a believer says to me "I'll pray for you."

 

-- Nate

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I usually don't respond. I just skip right over it and go on with whatever I was saying or even nicely end the conversation.

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I think its offensive if someone already knows that you are non-christian and says it anyway. That would be disrespectful. Some people don't know when to quit. Maybe your family members think they can reconvert you or something.

 

As far as others who may not know your position on religion, in the general public in this country most people are Christians and I am afraid they make assumptions that others are as well. They don't mean anything bad by saying it. I reinterpret it to mean they are thinking about me and just say "thanks" or nothing at all and move on. Generally I avoid getting into any explanations of religion.

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Never heard that. If I did,I'd suggest doing something more useful.

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The "praying for you" phrase is kind of a catch-all saying for believers. For some it means they like you and intend good towards you. For some it means they think you are on the level of an alien with blue tentacles coming out of your head, and they want their god to change you to be like them. For others it can mean that they really like you and are interested in more, but this is the only acceptable way to indicate it in their social circle. I'm sure there are more distinctions, but 2/3 of the time I think it means generically that they hold warm thoughts for you, and this way of expressing it gets a warm response from most of the people they know.

 

But you are right in that it assumes at least a cultural level of recognition and agreement that this is a good thing for them to do for you.

 

I usually just take it as warm feelings toward me and let it go. Buying you a massage or merely expressing hope is a more secular way to express this, but since they are steeped in Christianity as their view of reality, they think they are being normal and are shocked at any thoughts to the contrary.

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"I'm praying for you"

 

"Thanks, I know that the Flying Spaghetti Monster will be listening and do what he can."

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Isn't it kind of arrogant to have someone tell you that they're praying for you anyway? If they're going to pray, just do it anyway. They don't have to make a big show about it. It just makes it sound like they're bragging when they say "I'm praying for you." And I'm pretty sure Jesus never went around telling his followers that he was praying for them.

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I think its offensive if someone already knows that you are non-christian and says it anyway. That would be disrespectful. Some people don't know when to quit.

 

Don't move down here then. It happens often and sometimes you just have to suck it up, just give them a "thank you", and walk away as fast as you can.

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I think its offensive if someone already knows that you are non-christian and says it anyway. That would be disrespectful. Some people don't know when to quit.

 

Don't move down here then. It happens often and sometimes you just have to suck it up, just give them a "thank you", and walk away as fast as you can.

 

Are you saying people often approach you with this "I will pray for you" statement who already know your feelings with regard to Christianity?

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Are you saying people often approach you with this "I will pray for you" statement who already know your feelings with regard to Christianity?

 

No, they don't approach one with that, but I've seen some crazy stuff every day. The other thing is, IF you think a person is your friend, don't tell them your woes or they will come out with that.

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Depends on who's saying it and what the context is.

 

For some folks I recognize that it's just their way of saying "I'll keep you in mind during a hard time in your life, and hope things get better." I don't mind that at all, especially from people who'd keep in touch and really honestly be concerned with how I was doing.

 

If it comes from some arrogant prick theist who's fed up with me because I won't kowtow to his conversion efforts and buy his bullshit, and the only parting shot he can think to send my way is a pissy, passive-aggressive, "I'll be praying for you" - well then I'm generally inclined to tell him not to bother. After that I'll respond with something like "Fine! And I'll be sure to think for you, you mindless Christbot drone!"

 

So it just depends.

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Guest Nacirema

It depends on the context. For me anyway.

 

If a person says it as a way to show that they care and are trying to help me, I can let it go (especially if they are trying to help me through other method, like talking me through it, etc.).

 

In fact, I've only ever once been presented with this statement as a sign of concern over my spiritual well-being. While in hindsight it upsets me, and I know that if it ever happens again, I would probably go into a rant about that being mindless and a stupid thing to say, and how it just is a person's refusal to think for themselves, at the time I felt much different.

 

Given that it was the first real debate I had since becoming an Atheist, it was the first time I had heard this statement that I had myself used in the past. So my internal reaction was something like this...

"Wow, that sounds familiar. Hey, I used to say that! Oh man, that is way more condescending than I ever thought possible! Why would anyone even bother with that? It never really works to do anything, and no one ever really prays for the person..."

Then, I just smiled, looked across the table to the person, and chuckled as I said...

"You do that."

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Ask them how they'd feel if you said you're praying to Satan for them or praying to the Muslim god.

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Personally I agree with your brother. Most of the time when I hear it, it's an expression of love and concern. I appreciate that. I don't believe in prayer, but I think it's the same as me saying "I'll keep you in my thoughts." If they mean well, that's the spirit I take it in.

 

I save the personal attacks on my non-belief and identity for this forum, and the occasional fundy asshat who REALLY wants to make an issue out of it. I can't turn every good wish into an attack on my identity, because that just shows I have a real lack of confidence in myself and who I am and being defensive reinforces that. It's too stressful a way to live.

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Guest goodfaith

Think of it as a cultural thing- if someone from another culture said 'Allah be praised' or 'peace man' or something...you'd smile and even if it's not what you believe accept they mean well.

 

I think the problem comes when it's offered so often as a kind fo censure or 'correction device' as though one person's beliefs and prayers are somehow better than another person's.

 

I've always thought it's a fundamental flaw of a religion, telling people to pray then when they act on what it reveals to them unless it's exactly what we believe thinking they got it wrong or something...that's a fundamental postition of evangelical christianity.

 

That's why there's so many rituals I think- distract people in case they start having their own spiritual experiences and wanderign off to give allegiance, service or money to someone else!

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Why not fire back with "And I'm blaspheming for you." :D

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I just smile and say, "Thank you," and let the topic change to something else. Hey, it's the thought that counts in my book.

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However, I really like Brought None's suggestion. :grin:

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