I would never tell him so, however, because there’s often something awful about telling someone that he/she is in one’s prayers—even a believer in God. How much shabbier, then, to mention it to an atheist. (Surely they know what we’re up to: we needn’t spell it out to make ourselves look all pious and shit.)
My prayers are my own business, and the only effect I can be assured they will have is upon my own mind, for the practice will make me less self-centered, if only for a few minutes together. Usually, of course, the results are more far-reaching.
I initially joked about this when the horrible news of Mr. Hitchens’ cancer broke, but apparently some people are taking it seriously as a debate. To take that point of view to its logical extreme would be to advocate a sort of thought control.