A man praying over the Bible
The faith division between Christians and atheists could not be more apparent in this survey. Whereas Christians will pay to receive prayers, atheists will pay to avoid them.

In today's economy, everything has a dollar value. Even thoughts and prayers.

And it turns out, economists have determined that prayers from a priest are worth about the same amount as a combo meal at McDonald's.

The recent study on the value of thoughts and prayers appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study's big find is that Christians would pay, on average, $7.17 to receive a prayer from a priest.

However, the value drops precipitously when the prayer is only from a religious stranger, and not a faith leader. Prayers from a religious stranger are worth only $4.36. And thoughts? Thoughts have a going rate of $3.27.

Pricing the Priceless

How did they calculate the value of something so abstract? The study's authors, economist Linda Thunström and sociologist Shiri Noy, recruited Christians and atheists from North Carolina shortly after Hurricane Florence devastated the state. The study's participants were given $5 and asked to determine how much they'd be willing to part with to receive thoughts and prayers from a stranger. The researchers then used statistical models to determine how much people would be willing to pay beyond the $5 initially given.

When a participant paid for thoughts and prayers from a stranger, the stranger received a note describing the person they were praying for. They also received a description of their recent hardships.

Atheist Aversion

The study found that prayers only held any value for Christians. For atheists, prayers actually have a negative value: Atheist participants actually paid money to avoid being prayed for. On average, atheists and agnostics were willing to pay $1.66 to avoid prayers from a priest and $3.54 to avoid prayers from a Christian stranger.

But that aversion to 'the other side' seems to go both ways. The study also found that Christians will pay $1.52 to avoid thoughts from a secular stranger.

Thoughts and Prayers: Helpful or Hollow?

The entire concept of 'Thoughts and Prayers' has been a lightning rod for criticism in recent years. There are some who view thoughts and prayers as a hollow gesture of slacktivism, particularly in response to gun violence.

The study's author Linda Thunström said that secular disillusionment over the saying "may reflect the political climate we're in." She noted that some of the study's respondents "might feel they hear the phrase 'thoughts and prayers' all the time, and perhaps it provokes something in them."

But, as evidenced by the study, for many Christians thoughts and prayers remain a legitimate response when tragedy strikes. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary defended 'thoughts and prayers' as part of the "common spiritual language of the American people" and that prayer "comes as naturally as a child with a need goes to a loving parent."

Thunström believes that offering prayers in response to a hardship comes down to knowing your audience. "What our results show is that they have real value to some people, but not to others. These gestures need to be more targeted. If you are talking to a population that is more dominated by nonbelievers, you might not want to suggest a national prayer day."

What do you think? Are thoughts and prayers a good response to a disaster, or just an empty gesture? Would you pay $7 to receive a prayer?


  1. Rev. Brien's Avatar Rev. Brien

    I will pay a few bucks to close this topic before the crazies come unhinged. Just saying ?

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    This is too funny, but it’s obviously a ploy to exploit gullible religionists.


    1. Rev. Brien's Avatar Rev. Brien

      I would so love to have a cup of coffee with you. The stuff we could laugh about would be never ending ???

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        ? You are so right Brien. In reality it is of course quite sad when you think about it.

        Mine is a latte, I’ll pay ?


    2. Lori's Avatar Lori

      On this I agree. Anyone that pays for prayers is totally out there. Not much else can be said.


    So... I can make $3.54 per person for not praying for them ? Sign me up!

  1. Sharon Shores's Avatar Sharon Shores

    Something that was not addressed in the study was the participant's current knowledge on the research behind prayer and results. Would the results be different if the participants had the information on the research?

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      If the participants were children dying of cancer, or malnutrition, or being abused, I doubt it they would be interested in any research. Just saying!


  1. Maurice Slaunwhite's Avatar Maurice Slaunwhite

    A thought is something that can become a reality when put to practice only if it is good. A Prayer Is a reality that is of the Lord Thy God which is real and is answered within reason. A thought can be made into money when put into practice to make something real that is made or bought From a company or person. A prayer is and does belong to the Lord our God and that cannot Be bought with any price. Pastor Maurice

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Thank you Maurice for your interpretation. Here is a WiKi link about prayer.


      You will see that recorded prayer has been around since at least 2300BC by the Sumerians. Some of those supplications were spells and incantations to their god.

      I’m sure that mankind, as a result of thought, has always tried to communicate with their god, or gods, ever since they worshipped that hot red disk that came up on the horizon every morning.

      It’s effectiveness, as a result of thought, is of course, still open to debate. Thought can drive people to do things superhuman to drive them on, such as having a desire to win, such as in sports, or expeditions. Thought can also be used to do bad things as well as good.

      Thoughts are real. The results of prayer, as a consequence of thought, is of course very subjective and I’m sure has been since mankind had a need to get in touch with their deity.


  1. Rod Gesner's Avatar Rod Gesner

    I'd Like to See a Study of How much The Televangalists and Other Media Spun Extortionists Get per prayer? That would be a More Accurate Count of How Much The Gullible Were Willing To Pay..

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