February 15, 2010

Those Prayer Requests on Facebook

facebook-logo.png

If you are on Facebook, it is a virtual certainty that you have seen prayer requests from countless "friends." Someone is having surgery and they request prayers. Someone else is worried about their child and requests prayers. I never know what to say in those situations, and I'm not alone in this. In fact, Stardust Musings and Thoughts for the Freethinker wrote a great post on this subject.

I understand that faith is very important to many of my religious friends. As annoying as I might find their frequent blathering about prayer, it would not be appropriate to express this sentiment in the midst of their distress (assuming that they are distressed). But like Stardust says, I'm not always sure what to say instead.

Sometimes, I'll say something along the lines of how I'm thinking about them and hoping for the best. My goal in saying something like that is to let them know that I'm aware of what is going on and express support for them in a manner that does not require me to lie to them. That might be better than nothing, but it seems weak when others are promising to engage in superstitious rituals to bring about divine intervention on their behalf.

Maybe I should tell them that I will send up some "burnt offerings" or animal blood. The Old Testament makes it sound like that is the solution for virtually all ailments. But of course, I don't believe any of that garbage and have little interest in pretending otherwise. If I really do care about the person, I generally try to avoid lying to them.

What do you typically say in situations like these? Are you ever tempted to go along with those promising to prayer even though you have no reason to think that prayer works?