Thursday, August 17, 2006


Praying for non-believers

First off - sorry it's taken so long to put anything in here. At some point I want to answer a question which appeared on my coding blog, in terms of how I square my faith and scientific background, and what happens when I experience doubt. Tonight, however, I'm thinking about prayer.

Right now, a friend of mine is in labour. (At least, I assume she is - she went in this evening to be induced.) Both halves of the couple are friends of ours (although I know the guy in question much better than the lady), and I know both of them are atheists. That leaves me in a bit of a quandary when it comes to praying for them.

I have no issue with praying for anyone. I certainly don't believe I should only pray for Christians - that would be daft. However, I'm aware that some non-believers don't like to be prayed for. I don't know the wishes of the couple involved in this respect. I strongly suspect they wouldn't mind at all, and wouldn't see the harm - but as I don't fully understand the reasoning of those who do mind being prayed for, it's hard to say for sure.

I wouldn't mind being prayed for by a non-Christian, assuming it was with good intent. I would object if sacrifices were involved, but the equivalent of Christian prayer would be something to be respected and welcomed, for me. I suspect the issue for some is a feeling of "meddling" - but would those same people object to a card saying, "Thinking of you at this difficult time" (or whatever)?

In my view, God's already with this newly growing family, and is looking after them and loving them. That's what God does. I waver greatly in terms of what prayer does, what it can accomplish etc, but I think I'm generally of the opinion that it's more to influence our actions than God's. If praying makes me more aware of their needs, even just by giving me space to consciously think of what they might be going through and how I could help, how is that a bad thing?

The tone of this post may be seen as somewhat aggressive towards those who do object to being prayed for, but that's not the aim at all. I'm just intensely puzzled by that mindset (just as I know some without faith are very puzzled by those who have faith). I'd like to understand better, so I could either be more sensitive or perhaps even ease some concerns. So, do any of you readers (assuming anyone is still even subscribed to this blog) object to being prayed for? If so, why? (If it's something that's hard to put into words, that's fine - I'm interested anyway!) If you're a person of faith, how do you deal with the issue?

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