Good things to those who ask: ancient answers to contemporary challenges to the efficacy of petitionary prayer
LE3 .A278 2020
Master of Arts
Acadia Divinity College
Contemporary debate over the efficacy of petitionary prayer has been strongly influenced by Eleonore Stump’s 1979 formulation of the argument against its logical coherence. Arguments recognizably similar to Stump’s, however, were being considered in the early centuries of Christianity, provoking some discussion but little apparent concern. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the early Christian understanding of the efficacy of petitionary prayer, in conjunction with the contributions of Stump and others interacting with her 1979 article, to determine whether a suitable defence against Stump’s argument can be constructed on the basis of the early sources. With some assistance from the philosophy of relations, it closely examines the relational framework suggested by the various factors linked by the early authors to the efficacy of prayer, ultimately concluding that this framework suggests a plausible means by which prayer gives God additional reason to grant petitions.
The author retains copyright in this thesis. Any substantial copying or any other actions that exceed fair dealing or other exceptions in the Copyright Act require the permission of the author.