Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 20 [XVIII.]--What Prayer Pelagius Would Admit to Be Necessary.
He confesses that |sins which have been committed do notwithstanding require to be divinely expiated, and that the Lord must be entreated because of them,| -- that is, for the purpose, of course, of obtaining pardon; |because that which has been done cannot,| it is his own admission, |be undone,| by that |power of nature and will of man| which he talks about so much. From this necessity, therefore, it follows that a man must pray to be forgiven. That a man, however, requires to be helped not to sin, he has nowhere admitted; I read no such admission in this passage; he keeps a strange silence on this subject altogether; although the Lord's Prayer enjoins upon us the necessity of praying both that our debts may be remitted to us, and that we may not be led into temptation, -- the one petition entreating that past offences may be atoned for; the other, that future ones may be avoided. Now, although this is never done unless our will be assistant, yet our will alone is not enough to secure its being done; the prayer, therefore, which is offered up to God for this result is neither superfluous nor offensive to the Lord. For what is more foolish than to pray that you may do that which you have it in your own power to do.