Is Petitionary Prayer Superfluous?

Isaac Choi
George Fox University
Why would God institute the practice of efficacious petitionary prayer? Why would God not simply give us what we need before we ask? I examine recently proposed solutions to this puzzle and argue that they are inadequate to explain why an omniscient and perfectly good God would act differently in response to prayer. I propose that God has reasons to not always maximize a creature’s good, even in a sinless world, and that petitionary prayer functions as a means to reward those who trust God, to enable us to actively love those we cannot otherwise help, and to give the petitioner personal evidence of God’s existence and care for her, creating a virtuous cycle of increasing faith. I refine this proposal by responding to several objections involving human responsibility and the epistemology of divine action. Along the way, I offer several ways petitioners can recognize God’s having answered a prayer and how God might help us with some common obstacles to prayer.
Keywords prayer  petitionary prayer
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The Experiential Problem for Petitionary Prayer.Shieva Kleinschmidt - 2018 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 83 (3):219-229.

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