My brother has cancer. Many friends/family tell me they are praying for him and for us and keeping him in their prayers. I never know the appropriate response to that besides an awkward "Thank you?". Any suggestions?

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Comment by girlatheist on March 10, 2010 at 6:54am
I had a fainting spell at work the other day. While I was in the ER getting checked out, a co-worker came down and silently prayed over me. I just said a quiet "thank you". I don't believe anyone heard it (as in a GOD), or that it did any good, but honestly, just her coming down there and being concerned for me made me feel really good. The prayer was here nor there.
Comment by Gaytor on March 10, 2010 at 9:51am
It's reflexive. My Facebook was filled with "Praying for you" when I and my father are Atheist. My sister had difficulty with everyone saying "I'm sorry." It's just one of those points in life where what else do you say? I got to the point where I'd say, "Thank you for thinking of me." I'm acknowledging their intent but not the prayer.
I hope that the treatment he receives is effective and he sees a speedy recovery.
Comment by a7 on March 10, 2010 at 2:28pm
i have been in the same situation when the parents were dying, things are tough enough at these times without the hassle of the holy do gooders. just let it fly over your head. if you dont like the person you can have a verbal blast, you will feel good and everyone will put it doon to the time and pressure.

take care man
Comment by the antithesis on March 10, 2010 at 6:06pm
When someone says they are praying for you, they mean they hope for the best for you. I almost said "wish for the best," but that's the same thing. In either case, it's not a hostile gesture. I wouldn't meet it with hostility. Just thank them. You know prayer doesn't help and chances are they do too. While some do believe in the power of prayer, I'll wager most know it doesn't do any good at all. But they aren't focused on that, so you shouldn't either. They hope your brother gets better. that's good enough for you. Whether they believe prayer actually helps or not is immaterial.

That said, I hope things turn out of the best for you and your brother.
Comment by M on March 12, 2010 at 1:53pm
Thank you always works. My sister prays for me all the time. It's just their way of putting you in their thoughts and wishing you well. As atheists, my family tells people we'll "think happy thoughts" for them when they request prayers. Nothing wrong at all with positive thinking!

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