From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Prevenient grace (also referred to as prevenial) is a Christian theological concept rooted in Augustinian theology. It is embraced primarily by Arminian Christians who are influenced by the theology of Jacob Arminius or John Wesley. Wesley typically referred to it in 18th century language as prevenient grace. In modern English, the phrase preceding grace would have a similar meaning.
Prevenient grace is divine grace which precedes human decision. It exists prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done. As humans are corrupted by the effects of sin, prevenient grace allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer. Whereas Augustine held that prevenient grace cannot be resisted, Wesleyan Arminians believe that it enables, but does not ensure, personal acceptance of the gift of salvation.