The Puzzle of Petitionary Prayer

Daniel Howard-Snyder, Frances Howard-Snyder

Abstract

The fact that our asking God to do something can make a difference to what he does underwrites the point of petitionary prayer. Here, however, a puzzle arises: Either doing what we ask is the best God can do or it is not. If it is, then our asking won’t make any difference to whether he does it. If it is not, then our asking won’t make any difference to whether he does it. So, our asking won’t make any difference to whether God does it. Our asking is therefore pointless. In this paper, we try to solve this puzzle without denying either that God must do the best he can or that petitioning God can make a difference to what he does. 

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