Please tell me what you think of this quote:
#1
"Medical treatment has failed and a child is dying.  Religious parents pray, 'O God, let her live'.  What does this amount to?  The parents ... seek something to sustain them which does not depend on the way things go, namely, the love of God.  If the child recovers, the recovery occasions the prayer of thanksgiving.  If one thinks in terms of causing God to save the child, one is nearer the example of non-religious parents who pray, 'O God, save our child' where the thought behind the prayer is that God could save the child if He wanted to.  The prayer is an attept at influencing the divine will.  In short, one is back in the realm of superstition.  It is true that love of God's will can be found in whatever happens, but the prayer of petition is best understood, not as an attempt at influencing the way things go, but as an expression of, and a request for, devotion to God through the way things go."

Is this in line with Catholic teaching?  I will site the quote after I get a few answers; don't wanna influence you guys unfairly.  And in my own defense, I have not yet looked up the credentials of the person from whom the quote comes.  The last sentence both confuses and troubles me.  I wonder if it shouldn't more properly read "... devotion to God come what may."  Thanks for the input!
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#2
It comes down to understanding Divine Providence. In a way it is 'fixed' for all time, i.e.: God has knowledge of all temporal events and how they will unfold and either wills or permits them to unfold in the way they do. Thus, God knows everything that's going to happen. But that doesn't mean that prayers of petition are worthless, given the seemingly 'immutable' will of God. Of course, it's not like such a prayer can 'influence' God to change Divine Providence as such.

However, such prayers can be understood within the context of Divine Providence.. For instance, God foresees certain prayers being said, and as a result, wills certain events to unfold in a way they would not have had the prayers not occurred. Ultimately, Divine Providence is 'fixed' because God has already considered all the factors involved, including that of prayer. However, prayer can be efficacious insofar as it leads to the unfolding of Divine Providence in the manner that it does. That's the way I'd phrase it.

Here's Ott's Fundamentals: "...[ O ]ne distinguishes "Providentia Mediata" (Mediate Providence) and Providentia Immediata (Immediate Providence). In mediate Providence, God utilises created mediate causes (causae secundae)" [p90]. I would say 'prayer' constitutes a mediate cause' in this case, which contributes to the unfolding of Divine Providence.
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#3
Prayers of Petition are one of the 4 types of prayers.  And yeah, we can go real theological and talk about how God incorporated the prayer He knew would happen into His divine plan, but that is not the purpose of this quote.

This quote is heresy and tripe.
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#4
If you follow this heretic's thinking to its logical conclusion, there is no need for the Mass to propitiate the Divine Wrath, as that would be influencing the Divine Will.  Utter tripe and heresy.
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#5
That is always an interesting question, and I don't have the theology quotes handy to give the Catholic answer to it, and I'm really not motivated to look.  But a philosophical counter argument is this:

It may be God's Will that we pray to Him - that His Will is not swayed but informed by our prayers.  In other words, His Will is that "If you make reparations, I will not crush you, but if you do not, I will impose my Justice upon you."  There's a term for this view of things that escapes me at the moment...  In any case, it may be exactly God's will that we petition Him for His actions, and we see as much in what Christ said in Scripture.

However, it does fit with Church teaching in that our prayers do make a difference, so does Confession, the Mass, etc., and that we do have free will.  It's also Scriptural since we are told God does hear our prayers, and we are shown that God does answer prayers.

What is important as Catholics is that if we pray asking for something and are not granted as we asked, we do not despair in our faith and trust that God knows what is best even if His reasoning and will do not make us feel any better.  There is no sin in thanksgiving for prayers granted, and silent acceptance of prayers not granted (or seemingly not granted), though it is certainly virtuous to try and look at prayers not granted as an opportunity for penance, as a test of obedience, as a growing in the faith, etc.

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#6
(08-15-2009, 09:13 PM)James02 Wrote: Prayers of Petition are one of the 4 types of prayers.  And yeah, we can go real theological and talk about how God incorporated the prayer He knew would happen into His divine plan, but that is not the purpose of this quote.

This quote is heresy and tripe.

Probably should make clear, I wasn't trying to 'justify' the quote. Just add some food for thought on the issue it brings up.
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#7
(08-15-2009, 06:49 AM)JonW Wrote: "Medical treatment has failed and a child is dying.  Religious parents pray, 'O God, let her live'.  What does this amount to?  The parents ... seek something to sustain them which does not depend on the way things go, namely, the love of God.  If the child recovers, the recovery occasions the prayer of thanksgiving.  If one thinks in terms of causing God to save the child, one is nearer the example of non-religious parents who pray, 'O God, save our child' where the thought behind the prayer is that God could save the child if He wanted to.  The prayer is an attept at influencing the divine will.  In short, one is back in the realm of superstition.  It is true that love of God's will can be found in whatever happens, but the prayer of petition is best understood, not as an attempt at influencing the way things go, but as an expression of, and a request for, devotion to God through the way things go."

Is this in line with Catholic teaching?  I will site the quote after I get a few answers; don't wanna influence you guys unfairly.  And in my own defense, I have not yet looked up the credentials of the person from whom the quote comes.  The last sentence both confuses and troubles me.  I wonder if it shouldn't more properly read "... devotion to God come what may."  Thanks for the input!
The current Catechism has very little on prayers of petition, actually. So I went to the Bible.

Luke 18
1 And he spoke also a parable to them, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint, 2 Saying: There was a judge in a certain city, who feared not God, nor regarded man. 3 And there was a certain widow in that city, and she came to him, saying: Avenge me of my adversary. 4 And he would not for a long time. But afterwards he said within himself: Although I fear not God, nor regard man, 5 Yet because this widow is troublesome to me, I will avenge her, lest continually coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said: Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night: and will he have patience in their regard?

Seems to me that Jesus is saying persistance pays off and that God does answer prayers.

The thought also just came to me that the necessary miracle for canonization depends on prayers to the Saint asking for a miracle cure. So I'd say that prayers of petition are Catholic, and we do try to influence outcomes. And have!

The quote is wrong. 

My two cents.
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#8
Quote: Give us this day our daily bread
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#9
We can even question a bit more: Why pray when God already knows all our needs? But it is in prayers, whatever the form, that God desires of us. Like a loving Father, God wants us to 'talk' to Him, not taking Him for granted. The primary reason we should pray is therefore to build a love-relationship with 'Our Father' in heaven. As food is to the body, prayer is to the soul.
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#10
Thanks for the responses, folks.  They were all very helpful.  So I think the consensus is that the quote is wrong.  I think the reason why we think the quote is wrong is because prayers of petition can move God to respond in a certain way.  Is this correct?  BTW, the quote comes from D.Z. Phillips who was a philosopher of religion belonging to one of the heretical sects.
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