I've got an online friend who's been having it rough lately. Dialysis, loss of work, bills piling up, you get the idea. As a friend it's hard to see someone having a hard time, knowing that you can't fix it for them. Many believers, who can't be in a position to help, are quick to say "...but I'll pray for you."

Prayer is one of those things I have a hard time understanding, as it relates to faith. If I am to understand correctly, a large part of faith involves believing that the Almighty Whatever has a big, perfect, ineffable plan for each and every person. But then, people ask the Almighty Whatever for stuff through prayer. Does this not suggest that the plan might be somehow, well, effable? If Almighty Whatever is all-knowing and has it all figured out, why ask for anything at all?

So as you can well imagine, I for one am not content with saying "...but I'll pray for you" when a friend is in need. Instead, I gave what very little I can spare (wishing it could be more!), and then asked a bunch of other people if they could do the same, and to pass the message along. I don't know if it's enough to help him out of his rut, but I am confident that it got him a hell of a lot further along than if I'd prayed instead.

Said friend stated that he felt truly blessed by the people who have helped him out so far, and then apologized (half-jokingly, I think) to me for his use of the word "blessed". But that doesn't upset me at all. I think that blessings most certainly do exist; just that we humans are much better at it.

P.S.: The original post by my friend in need, with information to his PayPal, is here.

Views: 5

Tags: atheism, blessings, charity, faith, humanism, prayer

Comment by Loop Johnny on November 13, 2010 at 8:23am
Friends do not need you to talk to yourself. Friends need a friend for advice.

A suggestive and constructive conversation is what I can give any of my friends and I assure you it is far more valuable than the placebo of "I will pray for you." that makes people think "Somebody is praying for me, thus I am safe." ( which is unrelated ).

People need social advice. If you would like to go further, get up and help him physically. Give him a financial boost. Let him use your X ( car, PC, etc. ). Help him achieve something that otherwise he couldn't have been able to do alone.
Comment by Laura Foster on November 13, 2010 at 12:10pm
While I agree with you on principle, Loop Johnny, the practical considerations in this particular case are such that it's not really doable. I mentioned he's an online friend; he lives a goodly distance away. But if he did live nearby and I had a car to loan, oh hell yes I'd do it.

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