God’s Ability to Respond Negatively to Prayer

Liam Barer 

Judeo-Christians tend to believe that God responds to prayer. In particular, they assert that answering one’s prayer necessarily involves God’s fulfillment of that prayer. Scott A. Davidson and most of his contemporaries echo this idea, by claiming that God’s fulfillment of prayers is one of the necessary and sufficient conditions for an answered prayer. In this presentation, I will encourage the idea that God can respond to prayers negatively by refusing to grant them. In accordance with Michael J Murray, I shall first explain why we do not have reason to accept the idea that God’s answering prayer necessarily includes its satisfaction. Second, I will refute Davidson’s ‘Reasons Account’ by referring to God denying Moses access into the Promised Land. Third, I will charitably reformulate the reasons so that it accounts for God’s negative responses to prayer. Finally, assuming that Moses’ case serves as a negative response to prayer, I w ill list some of theological questions concerning the nature of prayer that are worth asking.

Bibliography:

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Anselm. Complete Philosophical and Theological Treatises of Anselm of Canterbury. Minneapolis: A.J. Banning, 2000. Print.

Basinger. David. Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion. “Does God Respond to Petitionary Prayer”. 256. Blackwell Pub. Web.

Davison, Scott A. « Petitionary Prayer. » Oxford Handbooks Online (2009): 286,289. Web.

Hebrew Bible. Genesis 15: 18-21, Deuteronomy 3:23-26

Murray. Michael J. Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion. “Does God Respond to Petitionary Prayer”. 243-247. Blackwell Pub. Web.

Paley, William. Natural Theology: Or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature. Houston: St. Thomas, 1972. Print.