I send you my best wishes for a speedy recovery, or the best outcome, or whatever my friend needs. I am not going to add to a friend's difficult time by engaging in a discussion about belief, or lack of belief. I don't talk about, or really even think about my atheism unless someone asks me directly. Then I answer truthfully, but briefly.
Honestly i take it as a gesture of good will. If someone is willing to use their "god" to comfort you in your hour of pain then i believe there shouldn't be offence. Depending on the context. If their tone of voice is condescending and not genuine concern then it's only right to be offended. Now if you can't tell the difference then it's all on you. Hope i helped
I'm still on a group message from a christian friend of mine who will occassionally post to the 4 of us asking for prayers. I always respond, "My thoughts are with you. I hope all will be okay," or something to that affect. The person who started the group does not know I'm an atheist. So far, no one has questioned me, and I'm still part of the group.
To me it all depends on the situation. If it is someone that I see all the time so I have to play nice then I will just make a general comment about about the situation but I leave out any religious parts. If the person is sick and in the hospital then I shift the focus to the doctors that heal. Try to find a little comfort in words without religion.
If it is someone that I do not really know then I usually just say something about hoping they get better or hope for the family and then I leave.
But if it is online then you can do the easiest thing...keep scrolling on by...lol
Now this is being nice, but some days I might not be as nice so I might make a comment about praying to your god that caused all this pain?...lol Remember they say that god is all knowing and all powerful so he obviously knows about it and can do something about it but chooses not to...
I'm really strict about not playing god games. I say "Sorry for your loss" or "Life is hard sometimes, if you need to talk to me about it I'm here."
I never respond to prayers and sometimes if it's a close friend I ask them not to do that-I am pretty much anti-religion. I say prayers never help, everyone at a catastrophe site was praying to god so why did only 3 people live? The ones who live say "God saved me." What a bunch of hurtful crap. Do the rest of the families think their dead loved one didn't pray hard enough? Or say the right words? Or wasn't sincere enough?I hate it -so why didn't he save all the praying people? DUH. There are over 3,000 gods which one do they pray to?
"Thanks for thinking about me" when people say they are praying for me. Most people don't even realize that I substitute "thinking" for "praying" in my reply.
I'm working on coming out as atheist as well. The YouTube channel for Atheist Community of Austin, including the Atheist Experience and "Talk Heathen" have been a big help. Many of the same questions we all have are discussed.
This is the first time I've posted anything here and, honestly, I had forgotten that I was even a member of this group. Must have signed up a few ago. I have been "out" as an atheist for over a decade but was a very devout for many . When people ask me for prayers now, I tell them that I am an atheist but that I will hold them in my heart. Instead of saying, "I will keep you in my prayers," I say, "I will hold you in my heart". Some people use the expression, "sending positive energy (or vibes) to you".
When receiving prayers:-
'Thank you for your thoughts and good wishes, they are really appreciated.'
When asked to pray for others:-
'My thoughts are with you, and I hope everything turns out for the best.'
Or similar - basically accept good wishes, offer good wishes, be a 'caring person'... just not mention the bearded sky-fairy or the child he had after a non-consensual, one-off fling with a teenage girl.