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Confidence in Prayer
St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor
Translated by M.F. Toale, D.D.
(PG 74, Cyril on John.)
John xvi. 23, 24.  Jesus tells us that His holy Disciples will be more courageous and more understanding when they would be, as the Scripture says, Endowed with power from on high (Lk. xxiv. 49), and that when their minds would be illumined by the torch of the Spirit they would be able to see into all things, even though no longer able to question Him bodily present among them.  The Saviour does not say that they would no longer as before need the light of His guidance, but that when they had received His Spirit, when He was dwelling in their hearts, they would not be wanting in any good thing, and their minds would be filled with most perfect knowledge. 

And by perfect knowledge we mean that knowledge which is true and undistorted, which withholds itself from thinking or speaking whatever is perverse, and has a right belief in the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity.  For though we now as it were see through a glass in a dark manner, and know only in part, as Paul tells us (I Cor. 12), nevertheless, as long as we adhere carefully to that which has been taught us, and follow close to the mind of the holy and divinely revealed Scriptures, we shall possess a knowledge which is not imperfect, and such as no one may make his own unless first enlightened by the Holy Spirit. 

In this way He urges the Disciples to seek for spiritual gifts, and at the same time gives them confidence that, should they ask for them, they will not fail to obtain them; adding the word Amen, that He might confirm their belief that should they ask the Father anything they would receive it from Him; He acting as their Mediator and making known their request, and, One with the Father, granting it.  For this is what He means by in my name; for we cannot draw nigh to God the Father otherwise than through the Son.  For it is by Him we have access in the one Spirit to the Father; as it is written (Eph. ii. 8).  It was because of this He said: I am the door; I am the way.  No man cometh to the Father, but by me (Jn. x. 7; xiv. 6).  For as the Son is God He, One with the Father, provides good things for His sanctified, and is found to be generous of His Bounty to us. 

And regarding this the divine Paul has given us the clearest testimony, where he writes: Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. i. 7).  And as our Mediator (I Tim. ii. 5.) and our High Priest (Heb. iv. 14) and our Advocate (I Jn. ii. 1), He intercedes with the Father for us.  He is our assurance in the presence of the Father.  Let us then offer our prayers in Christís Name.  For in this way will the Father most readily consent to them, and grant His graces to those who seek them, that receiving them we may rejoice. 

Filled therefore with spiritual gifts, and enriched by the fulness of understanding because of His Spirit dwelling within us, let us fight vigorously against every unfitting as well as evil lust, and so doing all things well, and going forward towards every virtue, with fervent zeal, and sustained by all things whatsoever that lead to holiness, let us rejoice exceedingly in the hope of the reward to come, and drawing away from the sadness that rises up from an evil conscience, let us enrich our minds with the joys of Christ. 

This grace was not given to those of old.  For they did not because of ignorance make use of this manner of prayer.  Now it is laid down for us by Christ, and most fittingly.  For the time of making straight has shone out, and the time of fulfilment been ushered in.  For as the Law brought nothing to perfection (Heb. vii. 19), and that justice was incom-plete which belonged to it, so also was its manner of prayer.  Amen.