I study in a christian University and it is very common to get picked on by a lecturer to pray for the class before any given lecture commences. I havent been as unfortunate as to be chosen to lead "brethren" into a word of prayer but am sure a day will finally come when am picked out. So fellow thinkers, any ideas on how to go about it if the day comes? What reason can you give a lecturer whose age tripples yours, why you can not pray, and not sound like you are disrespecting him? suggestions highly welcome
If chosen, start singing the alphabet song, or counting, or ordering a big mac meal and try to get onion rings instead of fries (which McDonalds doesn't have), Even better, start your prayer by listing all the gods you know in alphabetical order and pray to them one by one.
Guarantee you'll only be asked once.
On a more serious note. Don't wait for him to call you, go to him after your next class and let him know you're not exactly personally comfortable with praying in public. You don't need to give him a reason unless he asks, and if he does all you need to say is that it's something concerning religion. Be honest, but sadly in this case I think you must be somewhat evasive if you want to stay "under cover", so if he pries just say something like "I like to keep my prayer life private." Yes you do not have a "prayer life" but that's why it's private... right? Basically what you want is to give him just the right amount of information to deduce that you are seriously not okay with praying in public, but to deduce nothing else at all.
Play the game or stand up for the truth and deal with the consequences, but first weight the Pro's and Con's. What are you in this University for in the first place? Whatever it is, keep the goal in mind and do what you need to, to reach that goal. If Sheep's clothing get's you thru the herd to the exit at the other side of the pasture, you're still a Wolf and you can throw off the Sheep's skin now that you no longer need it.
Why make your Academic life harder then it needs to be?
Shucks I'll forgive you for 'going along to get along', if that makes you feel better about blowing smoke up their ass to get to your goal.
Enjoy life, you only get the one.
You're in an unusual situation. I would probably try to say something like "I'm sorry, I'm not comfortable with that" and just let everyone assume you're shy. If that doesn't work, I'd just go ahead and do a short, generic prayer. Think about what you'd say beforehand, so you have something in mind and can wrap it up quickly. You don't have to impress your fellow atheists by taking some pointless stand in a classroom -- we don't have some kind of dogma you'd be betraying. Get it over with, get on with your life, and forget it. You know you don't believe it, and it's not a life-or-death situation, so who cares?
This won't help you, I'm sure. LOL But soon before leaving the church myself when I was 12, the leader of the youth group I was in would (like your lecturer) would call on someone to lead the prayer. When I was called on, I'd do the whole passive-aggressive thing and not say anything. Just remained silent. He was also so busy with someone else at the end that I managed to sneak out without him talking to me about it later. I did that 2 or 3 times before he stopped calling my name. Again, I was 12. Not something I'd do in my 40's. I think what I'd do now is something someone else mentioned is speak with the Lecturer then explain that I wasn't comfortable about leading the prayer and if he could respectfully not call on me next time to do it.
Not entirely on subject, but then again, not entirely off, I ran across an article a couple of weeks ago that expounded on the benefits of prayer. I really wish I had saved the URL, but I had no way of knowing this topic would come up.
The article related that prayer has been proven by brain scans, to release positive endorphins that provide the body and mind with a feeling of tranquility and well-being. Almost four-fifths through the article, it also added, in only a couple of sentences, that meditation does the same thing.
Anybody think that just possibly the article might have been slanted?
I hope you are not studying biology!
I'd just tell him before or after class that I wouldn't be comfortable praying as a non-theist. It's better than making it up after he's found out.