Prayer: How to Do Nothing and Still Think You’re Helping

There’s lot of good stuff at the American Humanist Association’s new Tumblr, like this clip from comedian Hannibal Buress:

“I don’t like when people say, ‘I’ll pray for you.’… You’re going to pray for me? So basically, you’re gonna sit at home and do nothing? ‘Cause that’s what your prayers are; you doing nothing while I struggle with a situation. So don’t pray for me — make me a sandwich or something.”


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    “Don’t pray for me; make me a sandwich or something” is going to be my default response to an offer of prayers from now on. That’s funny:).

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      Possibly more polite would be to phrase it as a request. “Couldn’t you just make a sandwich for me instead? That usually ends up being much more helpful.”

  • thepoliticalcat

    Pretty good, Hemant. I don’t know how you keep up the blog with a full teaching load, but kudos, dude.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      Minions help.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Although more minions means more noise. I’m amazed at not only his ability to filter the signal, but add thought and perspective to it.

  • Chris B

    I’ve long thought about writing up pretty much exactly this thought. I can’t imagine how much damage has been done to the world by people praying for things instead of taking action.

  • FreethinkerCRO

    From wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slacktivism : Slacktivism … is a portmanteau of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel some amount of satisfaction.

    Sounds like prayer is the original slacktivism.

  • Trickster Goddess

    I have an online friend who became physically disabled and needed a wheelchair and home care to survive. Later she complained that most of her RL friends deserted her, saying “I’ll pray for you” just before drifting out of her life.

    When I was a kid, I was often told that God rarely acts directly but instead works through other people. So basically what her ex-friends were saying is “I don’t want to help you, but I’ll ask God to send someone else to help you instead.”

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      And we’re supposed to smile, nod, and suffer because it’s noble and God put us here for a reason and bullshit and blah blah fucking blah.

      Fuck that.

      I’m not asking you to give me a sponge bath, I’m asking you to treat me like a goddamn human being with all the same needs for companionship and activity and interaction and stuff.

  • Machintelligence

    If you are going to pray for me, could you also sacrifice a goat? I hear that the sacrifice makes prayer more effective.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Once, after somebody said “I’ll pray for you” with that annoying “This is how I back out of an argument I’m losing and still look like I’m one-up” kind of tone, I said, “Oh okay, but you know, if you really want to do something for me, instead of praying for me, take a dollar, just one dollar, put it in an envelope and mail it to the Red Cross. That would be much more helpful. Thanks.” (big smile)

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I’ve done that “put your money where your mouth is” challenge a few times, and I’ve yet to have someone take me up on it. But I like the simplicity of this one.

  • NavinJay

    If prayer worked then BOTH teams would win their ballgames. Prayer is silly and a waste of time.

  • NavinJay

    “You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Two reasons: First of
    all, I think he’s a good actor, okay? To me, that counts. Second, he looks like
    a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn’t fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci
    came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with.” — George Carlin. RIP.


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