jesus was a primate

a small insight into my life: wife-mom-football-fitness-politics-religion~upcycle

Awkward prayer situations


I’m Atheist, I don’t pray.

Finding myself in any prayer situation is always awkward. Not because I am uncomfortable in my Atheist belief systems or because I’m uncomfortable being around Christians.

Prayer situations are awkward because when people are praying they assume everyone will join in OR they are uncomfortable worrying about the non believers.

A couple weeks ago I had an Aunt &
Uncle over for dinner. We sat down and began to serve the food, family style. My husband put a couple items on his plate and then took a few bites of food. Aunt & Uncle awkwardly made eyes at each other trying to decide what to do.

Hubby, my son and I began eating and conversing as normal.
Aunt & Uncle followed suit.

Looking back, I probably should have addressed the situation. “Feel free to say a prayer, but we will not be joining you.” Or something to that effect.


Earlier this week the same Aunt & Uncle had us over to their house for dinner.

The same awkward silence took place between placing food on our plates
and before the first bites of food were taken.

Aunt & Uncle made eyes at each other and then Uncle said, “let’s eat, they don’t say prayer”

I felt a little awkward because they were not doing their normal routine because they were dining with a family of Atheist.

Had they wanted to say a prayer I would have done the same routine I mastered as a child while dining with my uber religious grandmother.

I would join hands and then sing the alphabet to myself, in my head


My son is the member of a remarkable football organization, but the head coach of the organization loves to give glory to god for everything.

After practices, the entire organization, 6 football teams, join in a huddle. They have a post practice speech or pep talk for the weekend games. Before the huddle is broken, he has the boys place their hands on one another, and he says a prayer.

Not once has this coach asked if the parents and families are ok with this ritual… He just proceeds.

My son always stands on the outside of the huddle and when the prayer starts he shifts backwards or stands there staring off into no mans land.


My dad is terminally ill with cancer. He recently spent 10 days in the hospital recovering from a bad stomach bacterial infection.

I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “I’m praying for you.”

I never know how respond.
Don’t waste your prayers on me.

Being atheist doesn’t define who I am as a person. It doesn’t make me any less caring than others. It doesn’t make rude or self centered. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a moral compass.
It simply means, I don’t believe in any type of god.


Prayer situations are awkward because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t want to be rude or seem ungrateful. I don’t want to make other people uncomfortable.

As an atheist or Christian (or any other religion for that matter) how do you handle these situations?


13 comments on “Awkward prayer situations

  1. Gaurab
    February 21, 2014

    I feel understanding and respecting other’s faith or belief doesn’t require you to be religious or atheist. I believe in spirituality and good in every religion. I feel you just need to be understanding. For example – Some people are veg and some are non veg but if you can avoid non-veg in front of a veg friend it’s called understanding because you can still eat the veg food. Similarly if you are atheist then prayers and rituals mean nothing to you so if you pray just to make your uncle and aunt happy it’s just be understanding because it still doesn’t mean anything to you. (PS – If it affects you then you should not do it)

    • jesuswasaprimate
      February 22, 2014

      I was vegetarian for a few years and had many similar awkward situations.
      People wanted to eat meat, but didn’t want to offend me. From my view point, I didn’t care what others ate. I made a decision for myself to be healthier and not eat meat.
      Obviously, I don’t mind if people say prayer around me, I choose to not participate.
      It’s just a weird situation. Lol

  2. Maggie Wilson
    February 22, 2014

    Lapsed Christian here. I don’t know what to call myself these days, and I suppose it doesn’t matter. I, too, feel some awkwardness in meal time prayer ritual, especially the hand holding part. I have to do some self-talk and turn the words around to fit my own beliefs. That is, yes, I’m grateful for the food before me, and the chance to spend time with the people seated around the table. Then I “la-la-la” in my head until the amen.

    • jesuswasaprimate
      February 22, 2014

      A fellow head “la la la” er…. Love it.

      I’m a touchy person, I’ll hug anyone. BUT holding hands is very intimate and that can be awkward in a diner setting. Also, peoples hands are filthy and I don’t want to touch someone’s hands before I touch my food… But I guess that’s a whole different discussion.

  3. quo1
    February 26, 2014

    I have found that laughing and pointing at the people praying makes me feel better.

    • jesuswasaprimate
      February 26, 2014

      I try to not be rude, but at times want to do the same

      • quo1
        February 26, 2014

        I try not to be rude as well. Luckily, I usually fail miserably at those attempts.

  4. LAMarcom
    March 3, 2014

    I used to feel awkward in these situations, but no longer. Probably because I don’t often find myself in these situations anymore. Anyone I can now imagine breaking bread with already knows I am an atheist. In the rare event I am sitting with people who need to pray, I just stare off into space while they do their thing. I never comment and I imagine my demeanor prevents commentary from them as well. Call it Détente I guess.

  5. theeditorsjournal
    March 7, 2014

    Let them get on with it I say, no need to feel awkward.It’s just like someone speaking another language in front of you for a few minutes to a family member, you just let them get on with it and resume with you when they are finished.

    • jesuswasaprimate
      March 7, 2014

      That’s a great way to look at it.

      Though, I do think it’s awkward when people speak in a different language around me as well. Lol

      Thanks for stopping by 😉

  6. JunkChuck
    May 29, 2014

    I’ve never used the “A-word” in front of my devoutly progressive Catholic in-laws because they would be shocked–staggered, appalled, terrified. For me, not of me. The writing is on the wall–I haven’t darkened the door of a church for 20 years unless there was a coffin at one end of the center aisle or a heaving-bodiced bride at the other. I don’t discuss my disbelief in front of them as a matter of respect–they’re real walk-the-walkers, kind and accepting and generous and charitable, more respectful than i ever could be, and no more judgemental. Nevertheless, my father-in-law at every meal looks to me and asks me if I’d like to say grace–and every time I say “I don’t know how–but you’re the patriarch.” And he does a “these thy gifts,” smiles, and says “Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub–Amen.” His way of letting me off the hook, even if he’s the one who put me on it

  7. LAMarcom
    June 7, 2014

    Where have you gone? NO recent posts? Or am I just not seeing them?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on February 21, 2014 by in religion and tagged , , , .
%d bloggers like this: