- They are illusions
They are not the solutions they promised to be
A ubiquitous response to tragedy, turmoil, or even just rainy days is for people to "pray for you." But I have a solemn request. If bad things happen to me, whatever you do, don't pray for me! Here is my rationale.
First and most importantly, prayer and the New Age alternative, "sending positive thoughts", objectively do not work (see Wikipedia's summary.) Sure, there are cases where someone prays really hard, and the thing they asked for happens. There are also countless times when it does not work. Humans are notoriously bad at figuring probability. A few anecdotes of coincidence get blown out of proportion in believers' minds. The statistical truth is that your prayers do me no good.
The next reason is a very pragmatic one. I'll never know that you're praying for me unless you tell me. If you are telling me about that, I'd much rather you ask me how I'm doing, listen to my problems, or even just send me an uplifting anecdote. Instead of spending the two minutes praying or thinking, actually do something that I can see and appreciate.
The fact is that when something bad happens or a person needs support for whatever reason, people gather around immediately but usually disperse just as quickly. Weeks or months later, when the negative experiences are still very real, the support often is no longer there. So another option rather than praying is to mark a date on the calendar. Choose something random a few weeks out and write "contact Dusty and tell him you care." When the time comes, I can guarantee that it will be much more greatly appreciated than a few positive silent thoughts.
Finally, praying for me is rejecting my firmly held beliefs. If you need fairy tales and placebos to make it through tough times, by all means partake for yourself, but as for me, I'm ensconced in reality. Reality is sometimes difficult. Making it through is easier with the support of friends and family, and to me prayer is the opposite of support. It's wasting time and energy that could otherwise be spent on something productive. I hate waste, so respect my beliefs and don't expend any effort in prayer for me.