The Doctrine of Revelatory Justiciability
by Eric Taylor Woodbury
Abiding by the laws of heaven, in order for God to answer a prayer, the soul offering the prayer (hereinafter, the “Petitioner”) must present a valid “case or controversy.” This requirement is met so long as the Petitioner’s prayer meets four requirements: (1) Standing; (2) Ripeness; (3) Mootness; and (4) The Political Question Doctrine.
The requirement of Standing refers to whether the Petitioner is the proper person to be bringing the matter in prayer before God. The Petitioner is the “proper person” for purposes of this requirement if, first, he can show that he or she has been or imminently will be injured, affected, harmed, confused, vexed, or perplexed. In general, a Petitioner is only allowed to receive revelation from God in regards to injuries that he personally has suffered. While this seems somewhat limited, it should be noted that in fact a broad array of circumstances can satisfy this requirement as will be shown. If the petitioner is asking God to prevent some future event from happening, it is crucial that the likelihood exist that the Petitioner will be affected by that future event. Additionally, if the Petitioner is simply searching for “answers” to the unknown, there must be some connection between the Petitioner’s life and the knowledge he is seeking.
Second, the Petitioner must demonstrate causation and redressibility. Specifically it is required for Petitioner to have thought through and studied the injury sufficiently to have identified the root cause of the problem and specifically what information the Petitioner is seeking. At times, and under certain circumstances, God may grant an answer with less than a full understanding of causation and redressibility (i.e. divine activism), but in general, it is first required for the Petitioner to “study it out in his mind” and at the very least understand the question brought before God.
Third, must be addressed the corollary to the requirement of personally suffered injuries – there is no such thing as third party standing. A Petitioner cannot bring third parties’ questions before God. While this seems an unreasonable restriction to be placed on the Petitioner, it is important to remember that this restriction is limited by three very important exceptions: Third Party Standing is allowed (1) if there is a close relationship between the Petitioner and the injured third party (family, friends, and other dependents); (2) if the third party is unlikely to be able to bring his own question to God (i.e. Brother of Jared); (3) if a priesthood leader is bringing a question to God on behalf of those under his stewardship or in his organization. Additionally, all of God’s children have the right to question matters pertaining to the establishment of religion in the world in an effort to determine which church is true (a biblical taxpayer’s standing if you will).
Fourth, and finally, the Petitioner must refrain from bringing to God generalized grievances only concerned with complaining that something is unfair. It the Petitioner feels sincerely confused or injured by something, an answer might be warranted, but complaints made for the complaint’s sake are not generally answerable. This is of course unless, God, or an ordained leader, has granted the right to an individual to seek understanding regarding a law or commandment.
The second requirement of Ripeness refers to whether revelation from God would be coming at the right time. Obviously, the greater the hardship faced by the Petitioner, the greater the likelihood God will answer the prayer. This may seem unfair, but its important to remember that in order for revelation from God to have the proper effect on the mind of an individual, the events or circumstances giving rise to the injury must be fully developed. “All these things” are for our good and we have to be patient as life’s lessons develop to a point where we will truly appreciate the answer received.
The requirement of Mootness refers generally to times when, in fact, the Petitioner’s plea or question has already been resolved. The answer from God or resolution to the issue has already occurred and it is left to the Petitioner to remember that God has already spoken peace to his mind and heart in regards to the issue and that he should be content with the answers already given. It can be generally thought of as a requirement to be forward looking and to live in the present; to accept the challenges that life brings.
Lastly, the Political Question Doctrine refers to the idea that while the law of God transcends all things and that God could provide an answer to any question brought to Him, at times, it is left to the leaders placed on the earth to study out the questions and arrive at an appropriate understanding and conclusion regarding some questions in this life. While obviously God’s prior commandments and words will provide sound guidance as these leaders sort through the issues at hand, God does leave to duly ordained and anointed leaders in the other branches of His church the ability to lead. As always, however, the Petitioner is within his right to take decisions and choices made by these leaders to God for confirmation that they are following His will.
If the preceding requirements are met, the Petitioner is within his right to bring his question or injury to God for an answer or redress. Depending on to what extent the Petitioner has met the above requirements and depending on the imminence or urgency of the matter present, God may answer his prayer. Over time as the Petitioner grow in wisdom and knowledge, the likelihood of receiving answers from God increases as he a develops an understanding of these requirements and learns to properly frame his questions. Once he becomes the spiritual equivalent of an organization like the US Chamber of Commerce (though perhaps slightly less morally bankrupt), he will find that the vast majority of his prayers are answered.