In many sporting competitions (and other types of competition) people will pray to God for help. Would it be fair to call such help cheating if it were granted? Is it ethical to even ask for what would be an unfair advantage over an opposing side in what should be a purely human competition? The critics of performance enhancing drugs seem to say nothing on this issue.

I don't think that it's possible for God to cheat, even if he answered the competitor's prayer for victory. However, I agree with Richard Heck that there is something unseemly about praying for someone else's defeat (or misfortune). If we think about real conflicts, rather than sporting competitions, it is even more unseemly to suppose that God is on our side. Our enemies are just as sure that God is on their side. Many religious people think that they see God's handiwork in various events. However, I doubt if we can understand God's Providence. We should never underestimate God's subtlety. I realize that I shifted the question from whether you would have an unfair advantage if you appealed for God's help in winning a sporting contest, and the help was provided. I don't see grounds for thinking that there is an *ethical* problem, but as Richard Heck said, a prayer for victory may be religiously inappropriate.

Let's say John hears from others that he seems perfect for some job/field, or a natural at that job/field. "You really ought to do this or that." Further, John is aware that he is very skilled at that activity, and would be a natural at it (in other words, it's not just mom's wishful thinking that her son should be a doctor). However, John has no interest in pursuing this field, and would rather do something else. Does he owe it to the world at large to follow the unwanted path and do great things for humanity?

You can't be sure that if you follow the unwanted path, you'll end up doing great things for humanity. Life is too full of accidents and unforeseen turnings to predict that you'll do great things for humanity. In any case, I would not advise that you pursue a field in which you have no interest just because you are good at something. People are fortunate to find satisfaction in what they do. You do not have a general obligation to the world to pursue something in which you (already) do not expect find satisfaction.

How do consequentialists justify what the consequence of an action is? If you save a man from drowning who goes on to become a serial killer, I don't think it's right to say that your action had this consequence. Where do you draw the line between action-consequence pairs? Don't consequences of actions lead to actions themselves?

I think that you have put your finger on a big problem with consequentialism: There is no way to draw a line between consequences that "count" that those that don't; and there's no way to draw a line between consequences that it was reasonable to expect, and those that no one could have foreseen. What matters are actual consequences. Period. Consequentialists may respond that they are giving us an analysis of right action in terms of goodness of consequences, and you can't expect an analysis to give you real-life advice. You're right, I think, that consequences of actions can lead to further actions. 'Lead to' is a pretty vague term, and we'd need to decide exactly how we mean it here. But if we use 'lead to' so that A's action x leads to B's action y if A's action x gives B a reason to do y, then it seems to me that definitely actions have further actions as consequences. The further actions would be consequences of the first action, and they in turn would have consequences. This...