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What is the non-theist replacement for "I'll pray for you?"

So many times a person is looking for comfort and Christians say "I'll pray for you." I've said "I hope it works out," or "I wish you the best..." but I don't see a non-religious equivalent.

Once, I was in my office, when a co-worker walked in and shut the door. He told me that his 1 1/2 year old grandson was diagnosed with leukemia.

Nearly in tears, he talked about the struggles the parents had. That he didn't know if the child would live. How the child was suffering and in pain-- and only a baby. I couldn't pretend to know what he was going through, though I felt truly sad hearing his story.

No words really seemed to fit. I did tell him that I had a cousin diagnosed with it as a child-- who survived, is an adult, and is doing well.

He stared at me-- waiting for the "I'll pray for you." I know, because he eventually said "Thanks for listening. I know you'll pray for me."

It wasn't the time to make a retort on that front, so I just nodded and let him go.

But, I've always wondered what is a good replacement phrase for the non-theist?

I'm so not good with that mushy stuff.

silvereyes 8 Nov 2

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Instead of saying "I'll pray for you," say: "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Yeah, I second this one. It shows that you're actually willing to DO something.

This is a great response. As they say, two hands working do more than a thousand clasped in prayer. Prayer won’t help anyone.

If someone asks me to pray for them, I will; I would do just about anything if someone was in need- the very least thing I can do for them is pray. I have no need to debate with anyone truth. In this day and age FACTS mean very little so Truth, on any level, is going be questioned.

Agreed, “nothing fails like prayer”

This seems the best route to me also. I certainly wouldn't want to be insensitive but donating a dollar to a leukemia research group would be more affective than prayer, but saying this would be more genuine and non antagonistic.

@ChrisFL lol I recall reading research that proved that for those who knew they were being prayed over they got worse whereas the group not being prayed over nor told got better outcomes.

@FrayedBear I call that the sad hilarity of reality.

What if, when you say "what can I do for you" , the person answers "pray for me/us/him/her". You are still in the same boat, yet? I will say "I'm so sorry. Please know I'm here for you if you need me"

@AzVixen52 I like your response as well as I do the "What can I do to help?", because often someone has no idea how to answer that.

Damn.... love that response.


"Holding you in my heart" is one I like. "Wishing/hoping all good things for you"

This is what I say...send my heart...


"I'm here for you. Anything I can do for you, just ask. Let's get together again soon to talk some more".

Actions are so much better than words.


There are a few, but I usually will say something like, "My thoughts are with you," or, "I'll be thinking about you," for general purpose. I'll add whatever is appropriate if there is something like a death or an illness.


I'm not good with the mushy stuff, either; it feels insincere much of the time. But, when people are looking for comfort, I think just being there physically can be a great help. It may be a good substitute to thank them for sharing their pain and grief, and you have a better understanding of their struggle. That feels less like a platitude than saying "I'll pray for you" or "you're in my thoughts." But, when possible, I think actions really do speak louder than words, and finding a way to help, when appropriate, can make a huge difference (e.g., preparing a meal, providing transportation, looking after the pets for a few days while they are away at the hospital, etc.). Sometimes just being there and listening to them can be a great comfort, especially when it's an otherwise normal visit without all of the pity they are likely getting from everyone else; it can help restore some sense of normalcy and take their mind off their troubles.

Haha! Sometimes, @silvereyes… it helps with the illusion of intellect.

@resserts lol


Instead of praying for me could you make me a sandwich?



I usually let them know my heart is hurting with them and I care for them and their family. Then give specific ways I can help like asking if they need help with rides to the doctor, need a babysitter, when I can cut the lawn, when I can bring over a meal. If it's a kid I like to know what their interests are and bring them a gift. People will be uncomfortable at first because they don't know what it's like to actually get something helpful rather than just a prayer that the person is going to forget to pray anyway. But hopefully eventually they will accept your kindess. Just be careful because then they'll just know you have a heart for Jesus, you just don't know it yet. palm to forehead


Wow! I am continually amazed at just how religious you Americans still are!? I think I would say "I really feel for you my friend and only wish that I could do more to help you, any time you need a chat, I'm here .
It's not as off pat as I will pray for you but it is more genuine because praying certainly won't help anyone, other than maybe to make the person doing the praying feeling like they've done something to help when actually they haven't.
I feel very much the other way around, that people who say things like I will pray for you are just trite and not really genuine. But then again I'm British and we just don't seem to be as religious as you folk !?

@OutlawJosie if they strongly belief put it back to them, bolstering them and their beliefs. Their god created the horror. If they belief in their deity he will support them and the medical teams healing the child.

Yeah, you British seem much more more practical and level headed in many aspects than Americans, but remember that we were the hothead flotsam that were sent off, or who escaped to the "New World" due to being criminals, indentured servants, religious dissenters, or greedy businessmen.

The only people who survived the new country were the ones who could think independently, take care of themselves, and fight like bobcats to survive.

"I'll pray for you" Really is that bad in the states. I live in North Dakota and I don't like watching the local news because I cringe every time they use "god, prayer, faith, blessing etc," Some 1/2 hour programs will include a half dozen of those references and I find them a sad reminder that my community (primarily Catholic) is largely superstitious.


I (almost) always say something like, "Praying is not my thing, but I will be thinking of you and hoping things work out for you".


I tend to say, I will carry you in my heart, or put positive vibes into the universe. However prayer doesn't have to mean prayer to a god. I believe people purposefully sending positive thoughts, does make a difference, especially when many people do this. I have begun calling this prayer. I meditate about someone's healing or deliverance from difficult circumstances, and that, to me, is praying. It also makes it easier to not feel a need to explain my personal beliefs in the midst of someone else's pain.

I like your thoughts. That echos mine. Our intentions and positive actions DO seem to impact the universe. That's the human experience of which religion seems to be the "natural" form that has come out of it. We've taken that experience and codified it to death and made it "right" and "wrong." But that doesn't deny the experience.

Love this! This is exactly what I say because I hate to seem like I don’t care!

I agree.. I will pray for them if asked..not to a god , but Universal energy and good vibes...


You are in my thoughts, I will be thinking of you, best wishes, hope it works out for you etc


What can I do to help you?


That's a hard one. I usually say that my thoughts are with them.


Always thought, for believer and atheist alike, "Is there anything i can do to help?" was a better reply than, "I will pray for you."
I hope, even when there isn't anything, the person appreciates the offer.

Allan Level 5 Nov 3, 2017

He really said "I know you'll pray for me?" Wow! I don't think I could have let that go.

I am guessing under the circumstances you really would let it go since the dude is upset!?

@OutlawJosie, I'm very uncomfortable with "I'll pray for you" as it is. As you say, it seems trite and not genuine, but I usually let it go. But his form of it also seems pretentious and presumptuous. I'm really not sure that I would let it go, but it would depend who exactly said it to me and how upset they seemed.

I get you bingst. I wouldn't have let it go either no matter how upset he was. Grandpa isn't the sick one its his grandson, why would I need to pray for him, isn't it his grandson that needs the so called prayers. I'm not the hug and I'll pat you on the shoulder type of guy and people who know me know this so they would know not to come to me for pampering/sympathy. Honestly I would have said this, hope your grandson gets better but running to me for sympathy for you was the wrong choice especially if you want to help your grandson. you should probably take the day off and go help or comfort the parents, I'm sure they are taking it a lot harder than you are. In fact whats there address ill send them 100 bucks and a get well card, to me that's more helping than some prayer. Now if you don't mind I'd like to get back to work and don't slam my door on your way out thankyou. @bingst

@OutlawJosie Hypocritical?


I always say "I'll keep a good thought".


I just reply with, "You'll be in my thoughts." No one has said anything back to that yet. I know it doesn't seem as uplifting, but isn't that really what they're doing? I mean, prayer is usually done inside your head, so technically they're just thinking of you... or at least saying they will.


My thoughts are with you.


I usually respond by saying, " Ill be thinking about you "Then i may add ," please let me know if there is anything i can do for you"


"I'm here for you" is probably the best I can come up with. Just being there for somebody, lending more than just your thoughts, can do a lot of good. Not everybody is great with words, so sometimes your presence or even a hug, can do so much more.

So true. Sometimes just being there.


I say something like "I'll be hoping for a good outcome" for you.


"I'll pray for you" infers that you're going to send out positive thoughts (prayers, wishes, etc) to God, right? So maybe because you don't believe in the "middle-man" here, you can just say that you will send them well wishes directly to them?

For me, I make sure to send as much positivity and love in their direction as possible, but I know that is not so easy for everyone. We all have our own ways of expressing ourselves and that is OKAY.

The simple act of thinking and speaking positively towards our surroundings has a massive effect on a molecular level. Scientifically speaking, it has been proven that we affect our environment directly just by the words and actions that we choose to carry out into the physical. Make your "prayer" to them in the form of kind words, affectionate actions, or even a loving embrace in the time of need.

You have the power to change someone's life, always.


"pray" actually meant "wish" when the English Bible was translated, and this is reflected in the original

euchomai: to pray
Original Word: ???????
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: euchomai
Phonetic Spelling: (yoo'-khom-ahee)
Short Definition: I pray, wish
Definition: I pray, wish.

@silvereyes pretty much everything that any Christian ever told us about the Bible is crap, lol


I hope the best for you and I'm available if you need to talk more.


Say "I'm here for you." Tell them you will listen any time. If it were his own child, you would ask what sort of help you, and his other office staff mates, might offer.

Kudos on the self-restraint to not tell him you don't waste your time or energy praying.

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