But St Alphonsus is saying something more specific about petitionary prayer, and, as often, his teaching is life-changing.
It is true, says St Augustine, that man, because of his weakness, is unable to fulfil some of God's commands with his present strength and the ordinary grace given to all men. But he can easily, by prayer, obtain such further aid aas he requires for his salvation: "God commands not impossibilities; but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."Then, just as you are puzzling over whether this is theologially sound, Alphonsus puts you in your place by pointing out that
This is a celebrated text, which was afterwards adopted and made a doctrine of faith by the Council of Trent.Earlier the saint quoted a text of Gennadius to sum up his teaching on the necessity of prayer:
We believe that no one approaches to be saved except at the invitation of God; that no one who is invited works out his own salvation except by the help of God; that no one merits this help unless he prays.This teaching provides a perfect balance between our utter dependence on God and the absolute necessity of our co-operation.