Don’t Ever Pray for Me

Years ago, I heard a memorable line from a war movie (I think it was Steel Helmet) that goes something like this, “There are only 2 kinds of men who have ever lived on earth: those who have died and those who are going to die.”  An officer was trying to inspire his men to attack with an attitude of we’re all going to die anyway.  I like to believe I’m going to live forever, but I suppose I’m no different from all the other people on earth, and someday I will die.  After I die I want to be buried in a cheap pine box, so future paleontologists can study my bones, if they haven’t decayed to nothing.  I do not want anyone, especially a shithead rabbi or minister to pray for me.  I believe in science, and I have always believed in science ever since I could reason as a small boy.  I consider prayer to be unscientific wishful thinking, and when I see other people offering to pray for something I just feel annoyed at how mindlessly brainwashed people can be.  At best prayer is superficially comforting and at worst it can be detrimental.


Steel Helmet was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful movie about the Korean War made by Sam Fuller and released in 1951.  It was made on a shoestring budget, using carboard tanks.

A comprehensive study of prayer determined heart surgery patients had worse outcomes when they knew people were praying for them.  The study looked at 1800 heart bypass surgery patients over a 10 year period.  The researchers divided them into 3 groups–patients who were anonymously prayed for but didn’t know it, patients who were not prayed for, and patients who were prayed for and knew it.  Patients who knew they were being prayed for suffered the most complications.  Scientists think this is because the knowledge they were being prayed for caused anxiety and stress.  The patients feared they were dying when they knew people were praying for them and thus had worse outcomes.  I remember when my father lay comatose and dying 5 years ago, and some idiotic doctor loudly prayed while standing over him in the Emergency Room.  What a jerk.  The doctor was supposed to be a man of science, yet he’s reciting some mumbo jumbo.  It didn’t help, and if my dad could understand anything, it probably caused anxiety.  I’m still pissed off about this incident.

My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last month.  Her friends have been following her case on Facebook, and they keep praying for her, and their prayers keep failing.  First, when her mammogram presented a suspicious result, they prayed the follow up mammogram would clear her.  It didn’t, and she had to have a needle biopsy, so they prayed for a benign result.  The lab result showed it was an invasive carcinoma.  After an MRI she was scheduled for a lumpectomy 2 weeks ago, and her friends prayed that would turn out ok.  A panel of doctors reviewed her case and determined she needed another needle biopsy, and her friends prayed for that.  After these results the doctors determined she needed a mastectomy.  Her friends keep praying for her, and she keeps getting worse results.  I wish they would stop praying for her before her results spiral any further into the negative.  Maybe her luck would start changing.  Maybe they should start praying to the flying spaghetti monster instead of Jesus.  I know I don’t want any of these people to ever pray for me because their prayers have proven not to work.

Image result for flying spaghetti monster

Maybe my wife’s friends should start praying to the flying spaghetti monster. They might get better results.

My wife needs to see a plastic surgeon before her mastectomy, but he keeps postponing her appointment.  (The plastic surgeon inserts an expander during the mastectomy, so it can later be filled with a saline implant.)  I’m rooting for the Dolly Parton implant, though I’m sure my wife and the plastic surgeon will choose symmetry.  But what if I prayed for a Dolly Parton insert?  Maybe that’s the 1 prayer destined to be answered.


Benson, H.; et. al.

“Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in Cardiac Bypass Patients: A Multicenter Randomized Trial of Uncertainty and Certainty of Receiving Intercessory Prayer”

American Heart Journal April 2006



3 Responses to “Don’t Ever Pray for Me”

  1. ina puustinen-westerholm Says:

    Your views..are coming from a fairly..unprotected ..bastion..of science learning/ the ..South. That’ rude version..of ..lumping folks together. A dear woman..i had only ‘met’..on the internet..devoted to dogs and dog culture..had actually signed up a caregiver, planned a trip to Oregon..almost 17 years ago..bringing a family 1920s hand done visit me and mine, and earnestly pray..that I ‘come to god’. We had great trips around Oregon, we visited..we talked and we shared. After a 5 day visit..she flew back to Georgia..with her caregiver..leaving the cherished quilt here. She and I..on the opposite sides of the ..religion issue..but would we have stood up, protected the crisis..yes..we would. I do not view her belief in her version of a ‘shit head’ idea. I do see it, cultural constructs..which many helpful, worthy viewpoints..from time..beyond our ken. Do people..end up fighting to the death..over..who is right..who is wrong. Damn-betcha. Tha’s whats ugly. The human dna..that simply MUST..see it the ONLY..right view. Some little fragment..buried deep inside many of us..that will not try to live..peaceably..with others. As to the cancer surgery for your wife..if you must wish for a ..parton type about you going in to the dr..and asking him to install one on you. Let them install the other, kindly, implant on per the eventual..matching size. When the surgeion asked me..prior to my breast removal..8 years..and 2 months ago..what I wanted..i asked to leave my chest..nude to rib tissues. I fear I still …toy with the idea of making a drape shouldered blouse..that I could ‘hang’..over my right riblets..and see if I was ACTUALLY..going to be hauled into court..for going town. No think?

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