Some of my friends ask me, how as an Atheist do you react when people say they are praying for you? Do you get upset?
I tell them I always say Thank You. I take it as their way to say “ I care for you” , and it doesn’t upset me.
It depends on the context. If it is someone concerned about a health condition or other problem I may have, I will smile and accept their good intention. If it happens in the course of a discussion about religion, and they say that to mean that my soul is headed for hell, and their prayer may save me, and they say it in a holier than thou tone......then I might give a little taste of something like this.... " If there actually is a just and all powerful diety who will judge us, then your contorted religion would be an affront to him. And you would be better off praying for forgiveness for yourself".
I say thank you. Whether or not we agree on religion is not the issue. What matters is that they care enough to wish you the best. I'm not here to fix the world. I just have my beliefs. They have theirs and if they wish me good will then I say thank you
"That's nice" or "bless your heart" is my usual standard answers, as long as I perceive they are trying to be comforting with good intentions. But if has to do with pushing their religious agenda then its a "don't bother!" I can and be condescending if need be no problem.
I don't get in the way way of them learning but I don't do any teaching I save my own mind saying thankyou nad not meaning it - I remember the bit in the film of george Orwells Brave New World , Wehn at the end they asked him what 2 and 2 were and he said 5 but under teh table he had four fingers out.
When it comes from a friend who's genuinely kind or a client I've learned to appreciate, I accept it as a gift because that's how they mean it.
When it's delivered surreptitiously by some clown (no offense meant to clowns) standing on a street corner I reject it with a glance, a frown, a shake of the head. (50yo saving my energy for other encounters lol)
I was in school a few years ago and a girl asked if she could pray for me... I said yea. I didn't know that she was going to grab my hand and do it right then. it was pretty awkward. a couple days ago a guy I know said his wife prayed for me and I was like - "that shit don't work". but if anything happens that is along the line of what they pray for it's like impossible to convince them that it wasn't thier prayer that helped.