When a tragedy happens, most of those who will be offering prayers will be making an empty and facile gesture. Nothing concrete to address the tragedy will be done or somebody else will be designated to do the dirty work. That is one thing but their saying they are praying is worse. There is no humility in people who advertising their praying. Jesus himself said one hand must not know what the other is doing when you pray. What is worse again is when the praying people act and speak as if prayers are needed or even the only thing that is needed. Need is a very strong word. You need food but you do not need caviar. You may want caviar but you do not need it. To claim to be giving people what they need when you are praying for them or casting spells for them or doing the crystal ball for them is manipulative and obscene. It is self-aggrandising.  It is an implied judgement of those who prefer action to prayer and who condemn praying people and their hypocrisy.
Boasting that prayer works is boasting about yourself if you are praying. After a terrible disaster and tragedy, saying prayer works and helps the survivors is really saying: "Prayer does not necessarily stop disasters and suffering but it helps people cope or learn from it." It is saying that it is fine if prayer lets a disaster happen as long as people learn to live with it.  See how cruel that is?  The suffering of others is belittled so that you can appear good and pious.  You are coming across as one who is happy that the prayer did not stop the disaster but now means you can pray for the healing of the victims!  What would you think of a doctor who would choose a plague if possible to tear through the people so that he can help them even if he will not charge them?  His not charging them and his kind words do not mitigate his attitude but make it worse.
Prayer is communication with God. It is union with God and believers say it is two way. God unites with you when you pray and you unite with him.
Prayer is not necessarily vocal it can just be an attitude you carry around in your heart. It can just be an intention that you don’t put into words.
Petitionary prayer, prayer that asks for something, either influences God or it does not. All prayer is intended to be petitionary for even when you don’t ask for a favour but just want to be with God you must necessarily intend that he helps you be really with him.
You may help people to show yourself smarter and better and richer than them. Prayer can be about patronising people as well. In fact it is the craftiest way to patronise for it won't be as obvious as anything else. For all we know, all who pray for another are smug and patronising especially when they make sure others know they are praying.
People are told to pray but not to insult or mock God by doubting or they will bring punishment on themselves. Unless you are sure enough that there is a God you have no right to advocate prayer when it is associated directly or indirectly with such implicit threats. In a world of chaos and danger, praying and sacrifice may not be intended to improve anything but to give meaning to the evil you are in the middle of.
It has been noticed that the reason intelligent and well-educated people believe in religious nonsense is because they pray.
Holy prayer, prayer that is seemingly meant to please God, is evil.
First of all, we know it is bad for we know that we have unfree will. Free will is an illusion or a mere feeling. A feeling has nothing to do with showing we really have free will. You can’t be free unless you know you are free and you cannot know that. There is no being to answer prayer and if there is then he is the Devil for though unfree we suffer because he won’t do anything to help.
Second, in this world, one event however small effects the way all others happen so for one to be helped others have to suffer in the process. Prayer is vindictively petitioning God to hurt others for your sake for frequently insignificant favours. It is vindictive for it is fanatical to pray for anything. Somebody has to lose so you can win. It could be a loved one. Prayer logically reduces love and respect for others and asks God to make a priority of delivering what you want. It is asking God to make a priority of you and to hell with everybody else.
Thanking God for the good things in your life insults those who suffer. You must be suggesting they suffer for a good purpose for God helps you and does not give the same help to them. But why thank God when the good things you get may not be intended for you but are just sent for a good purpose? What makes you so sure that anything you have is for your own sake? When God may not be giving them willingly to you then why thank him? You are insulting sufferers for their suffering is reckoned to be for a good purpose while your blessings are taken by you to be gifts from God and not mere stepping stones to something better if not for you then somebody else.
Third, prayer is an act of camouflaged Devil-worship if we are sinners or think ourselves to be. You cannot mean, “O Lord, thy will be done!” You will hold back from wanting God do to only what he wants. You don't want him to torment you forever so that it may do somebody else some justifiable good. And what if it is God's will that you be allowed to turn away from him? You can't mean the following by the prayer: let everybody love you Lord but me. Religion says that sin is always in us and is being done at the back of our minds – eg. We would not do all we can to save the starving millions. Prayer is indirect Satan-worship if it insults God and direct Satan-worship if God is believed to honour your sin of prayer. “I love you, God” of which petitionary prayer is an expression is evil.
Fourth, you cannot believe in prayer without claiming that the God it is directed to does evil for a mysterious purpose which is a dangerous and blasphemous supposition. An all-good God would not want us to believe in it for if we do then we should say the same about any person we like who does something that seems very cruel though no rational excuse can be found. It allows religion to make cruel rules and say that the rules are right because God knows what he is doing.
Fifth, prayer is loving God alone while bending into the dust and inwardly moaning about how worthless you are and that he alone counts. It is degrading to put that which may not exist before yourself who you know does exist and before others who you see and hear like him. The absence of self-esteem corrupts the mind and can take away health.
Sixth, praying for suffering babies in the Third World is sheer mockery when you won’t give all you have for them and go out to them. You are really asking for somebody else to help them. The result of you giving all you have for them and going to them will be much good that won’t happen without you. No, you want God to send other people to them and maybe make it easy for everybody by doing a miracle for them.
Religion claims that you will feel you have to do more for them if you pray to God to help them. God will put that feeling in you so praying is putting yourself at his service. It is asking for the strength to fulfil the prayer yourself. Asking God then to help the suffering babies is asking him to send you to them or to do something big for them. Such prayer cannot be much good for only a tiny number get the call to help from prayer. Most do not.
My feelings are my problem if they are unpleasant or neither pleasant or unpleasant. I have the feelings and nobody else. But if you can work magic through prayers or spells then I can blame you for not making me happier. People can and do hate others for they think they have not prayed for them.
The Church writes prayers for all occasions. If prayer and those who do it are so great then why are there no prayers for people going through a divorce or who are coming out of the closet as gay? Even if the Church despises these actions it could still pray that they will do what they feel is right for them. It cannot for it pretends to know it all. This is nothing more than accusing those people of doing what they are doing in bad faith. If they are in good faith then pray for them. The absence of such prayers proves that the Church is very unfair.
Atheists have a right to see prayer as an evil activity. It conditions people to prefer God’s rights to human rights and to deepen the religious hold on the world with all the terrible disasters that brings. Prayer insults people. The view of God that it proposes for us is vile and has resulted in the vile hypocrisy that is so common in people of faith. One wonders if people who are unaffected by its poison really believe or only imagine that they believe. Prayer implies God should let good people suffer for he has the power to save them and won’t. It can only lead to trouble. If people didn’t see the need for praying they wouldn’t see the need for believing in God so prayer must be exposed.
The benefits of prayer do not come from prayer at all which is why we should destroy people’s faith in prayer and have no regrets. The benefits are nothing compared to the damage that is done.
Prayer is bad for religious belief is bad.

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