As a journalist, I occasionally cover stories about Christian events. In fact, every week I cover a worship service for the university paper. Today, I sat in attendance beside a faculty member from the school.
This particular service was about grief - the general theme being "there are different seasons in life; sometimes we are joyful, sometimes we are sad." I enjoyed singing the songs, but when we were asked to join in prayer with the person next to us, I felt a little uncomfortable. She asked me if I had anything I'd like to pray about. I told her "I'm not really the praying type," but encouraged her to pray.
She asked for God to help me with my senior year and the years beyond that, before asking for a stronger community where the people who feel alienated (in this case, non-white/non-Christian people) did not feel so excluded.
I could agree with all of that, but then again I felt a little bit excluded as well. I was not praying, I was just nodding in agreement. What sort of reaction would have fit? Should I have prayed? Whether or not one is religious, praying is just talking to the air/oneself/those within earshot. To pray, I would have felt like someone indulging a person who has an imaginary friend in the room. Try doing that and not feeling like you're being condescending. It was awkward, but at least I was respectful and honest.