Of all the neurotic and irrational ideas religion has come up with, the notion that God(s) intervenes in the flow of natural events due to a human's prayer has got to be one of the craziest. Why do I say this?
Let us illustrate the lunacy of the situation. You are a doctor who is in a room with a sick child -- crying, near death. You have, in your possession, a serum that will either cure the child or at least lessen his pain. If you and the child were alone in the room what would you do? Give the child the serum, of course.
Ah, but let's say that you decide to wait until there are more people in the room to do this. The child's parents show up and start pleading with you to help their little one. "No," you say, "I will only intervene when more people show up and ask me to help." Some others show up -- relatives, nurses, friends, even strangers. "I will not intervene until you start a petition in the neighborhood for me to help" you say. After hundreds of men and women sign the petition you give the child the serum. Have you done anything great or noble? Should the parents thank you? I will leave you to decide.
Obviously the above scenario closely resembles the situation God is in if you believe in that sort of thing. Millions, no, billions of believers pray to God asking Him for help, whether great or small. As a Witness I did this countless times, often praying for people in other countries I had no knowledge of. When Elisabeth Smart was missing her parents asked for total strangers to pray for her safety and return. In fact, they attributed her amazing recovery to petitionary prayer.
Why does God play these games? If He knows all and sees all why does he need humans to ask Him to do the right thing? Is that not like the example I just gave of the doctor and the child? People often pray in large numbers for the same thing -- the aforementioned situation with Smart, prayer for nations to stop persecuting Christians, prayer for certain liberal Supreme Court Justices to retire -- and it is thought that such masses of people praying have greater effect, that God is somehow tallying up the quantity and quality of prayers before he intervenes. (Like it or not, that IS what believers think, even though they won't say it so matter-of-factly) Confusing? Try sadistic.
Is this not anthropomorphism? No, I cannot even conclude that. What human being would be so callous as to "answer" prayers in such a way. What loving father would ever wait till he was asked to do the right thing -- and then only doing so in such a manner as to cause so much confusion?
There was an experience in an Awake magazine a few years ago of a man, an elder, who had prayed for her daughters safety while she was traveling across the country. She -- pregnant with child at the time -- was brutally murdered along with her child. The father said that he could not understand why Jehovah didn't protect her. But then he reasoned that Jehovah did in fact protect her -- that is, spiritually protect her. What specious reasoning -- sad even. Just what does that mean that God protected her spiritually? Why not simply conclude that God just didn't come through. Or, more likely still, that He just doesn't exist.
When you think about it, I mean really think about it, you will see that petitionary prayer is one of the greatest delusions known to man.