thanks Jim for your thoughtful answer...I am willing and ready to accept the Orthodox church as the fullness of God's expression but I wonder why it would be even considered a bad thing to pray with another christian. After all, you admit that it was in the protestant church that you began your journey to Christ so it would seem wrong to assume that the "others" are not worthy of praying with. Surely, God is at work in these Protestant churches, drawing men to Himself. Would it be wrong to acknowledge that? I believe you can remain totally orthodox and still pray with non-orthodox Christians. To do otherwise is, I believe, spiritual arrogance.
I understand your position, as my mother and her sisters are Protestant, and it can create an awkward situation to say "Sorry, I can't pray with you." The reason for this is that while both the Protestant and Orthodox Christian are eager to serve Christ, it is only in Orthodoxy that our theology is 100% and part of the True Faith.
There is a Latin expression, lex orandi, lex credendi
, that essentially means "we pray what we believe." A Protestant is going to say prayers that are consistant with Protestant theology. This may or may not be consistant with Orthodox theology. Therefore, by praying with those who are not Orthodox we are putting ourselves at risk for praying something that we don't believe.
In my case, my mother's sister goes to a Charismatic church that believes in praying for the "gift of tongues." Their interpretation of the gift of tongues is very
different than the Orthodox understanding of the gift, and frankly I believe they are unwittingly inviting the devil to cause mischief at their services. To pray along with my aunt would go completely against Orthodox teaching.
So what do I do?
Well at family dinners where grace is said, I usually volunteer to give the blessing. I'll say a binine prayer such as "Bless us O Lord for these gifts for which we are about to receive through Christ our bounty, Amen." While I will cross myself before and after the prayer, I don't expect anyone else to do so. By volunteering to lead the prayer, I can choose a prayer that is not in violation of my beliefs or their beliefs. (After all, it's not like every Orthodox prayer is laced with a mention of the Theotokos and the Saints.
In the event that I have to attend a church service with them (i.e., wedding or funeral) I respectfully watch but do not participate. When they bow their heads to pray, I bow mine and silently pray an Orthodox prayer.
I hope this clarifies things for you.