Seeing my frustration, one of the guys (this guy, actually) gave me a sympathetic smile and said, "When I go to church tomorrow, I'm gonna add you to my prayer list."How do I respond to that?
Following our discussion about Mormonism, this kid had asked me some questions about what I believe now that I'm not Mormon and why I don't just do Christianity instead. So I told him I was agnostic. I told him that my best guess was that there probably isn't a god but I don't think there's any way to know for sure. This line of thought confuses him. I don't think he's comfortable with considering the possibility that God may not exist.
But then he told me, in the middle of this madness the other night, that he was going to pray for me. And I didn't really know how to react.
When I was a member of the church, the response was simple. You reply by saying, "Oh, thank you!" while inwardly thinking that his prayer won't amount to much because he believes in the wrong religion. Your reply is condescending even though you probably don't realize it. You figure that even though his religion is wrong, at least he'll be trying to communicate with his Heavenly Father, and that's a step in the right direction either way, so his ineffectual prayer on your behalf might be of some benefit.
Now that I'm not a member of the church? I think I was offended somewhere in the corner of my brain. I'm handling my problems. Maybe I'm not doing it with the collectedness or finesse that I could, but I'm handling them. What makes him think I'm desperate enough to dump my problems in the lap of a supreme being who probably doesn't exist but will make me feel better because I've laid the responsibility for solving them in someone else's omnipotent hands? Most of me wasn't offended, though. Most of me was thinking, "That won't affect anything, so it doesn't really matter if you do that. Knock yourself out."
What I said was, "Oh, okay. Thanks, I guess."
He gave me kind of a weird pity look. "I think you're a pretty good guy, you know? Unfortunately, that's not all you need to get to Heaven. So I'll pray for you." Suddenly I realized that he wasn't going to pray for me because my job sucks, he was going to pray for the fate of my immortal soul?
Then I wondered how many times I'd given that same look to my friends when I was growing up. The whole "you're a good person, but you're so sadly mislead about spiritual things that you may be doomed" thing is something I haven't been on this side of very often. But as a faithful Mormon, I used to do it all the time.