Should we pray for Christopher Hitchens?

Christopher Hitchens, the sharp-tongued atheist author and speaker, has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Hitchens’ situation has set an unusual discussion question flitting from blog to blog: should Christians pray for Christopher Hitchens?

The Jeffrey Goldberg post that kicked off the discussion muses:

In one e-mail to [Hitchens], I wrote, “I’m thinking of you and (insert prayer joke here).” Hitchens, who is America’s most famous and pugnacious atheist, has by now received several dozen variants of this same line, undoubtedly doesn’t want my prayers, and since I don’t necessarily believe, in any case, that God sits in heaven keeping track of the sick and deciding for whom chemotherapy should work and for whom it should not, I don’t feel overly compelled to pray for him. Though I might anyway.

My first reaction upon hearing this question was “Of course we should pray for Christopher Hitchens”—after all, Jesus explicitly commands us to do so. I like the way that Greg Kandra puts it in a blog post addressing this question:

Just because Hitchens thinks [that prayer is worthless] doesn’t make it so. And prayer isn’t a chore, or a favor we do to bail out someone. It is an act of faith. And it is a gift. It engages the one who prays in a divine conversation that may do as much for the pray-er as it does for the pray-ee. The entire world is uplifted just a bit if even just one person takes a moment to whisper an “Our Father” with an intention of love and joyful hope.

In other words, prayer isn’t a job that we do just for those who we think “deserve” it—we’re commanded to pray. It’s a privilege to pray, and earnest prayer for even “enemies of the faith” like Hitchens should be a reflexive action.

What do you think? Are you willing to pray for Christopher Hitchens’ health? Are there people you struggle to pray for? How would you advise a Christian who found it hard to pray for an enemy or a tormentor in their life?

(And if private prayer isn’t enough, there’s even a Facebook group for Christians who are praying for Christopher Hitchens.)

9 Responses to “Should we pray for Christopher Hitchens?”

  • sarina says:

    It is irrelevant whether Christopher Hitchens believes in God or not, as a person of faith it is important for us to wish him a healthy, speedy recovery regardless of his atheist views.


  • Sean Scott says:

    Mr. Kandra said it perfectly. Of course we should pray for Mr. Hitchens, and all of the other unbelievers, doubters and mockers.

    God makes it rain on the believers and the unbelievers both.

  • Gerald Burnett says:

    No doubt as Christians we have a responsibility to pray for him whether he believes or not. such prayer should have two objectives. 1) that the Holy spirit will work through this sickness to bring Divine Light correction and reproof to Mr. Hichens consciousness. (much like Saul/Paul, received his even though he wasn’t a believer) 2)That Mr Hichens will be made well and use his influence for the Glory of God.

  • Pat says:

    Yes….what Gerald said! :-)

  • Natasha Robinson says:

    I will definitely pray for Mr. Hitchens because Jesus said he came for the sick, not those who are healthy. Its always sad to see someone like that who does not know the joy of the Lord. I did not choose this love, God chose me. My prayer is that God heals him and he knows that is God that healed him and starts using that mouth he used for satan to glorify God.

  • Bad news: atheist Hitchens is dying.

    You all know the low survival statistics, but the good news is that September 20, 2010, is officially designated as “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day.”

    Mark your calendars, tell your friends, and please pray that Hitchens sees the light and turns his life around soon — before it’s too late!

    Watch the “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day” video:

    “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

    – Matthew 5:44

  • ROY THOMAS says:

    The bible says that we must pray for all men especially those who are in leadership positions.
    Leaders who are atheists can influence their followers and lead them into hell. We must pray for the man that God would bring him into a realization of the dangerous position that he is in, without Christ.\

  • Linda says:

    Hitchen’s interview with Charlie Rose the other day revealed a high-minded and generous spirit, pursuing his own sense of the truth, a man very easy to love. I cannot imagine that the Divine Spirit does not respond to him in this way and recognize his efforts to live a highly moral and politically informed life. We are all of the products of our families and their views. A boring man he certainly is not.
    I will be praying for him on September 20th.

  • Teresa says:

    I think we are obligated to pray as believers. Remember Saul/Paul?