A literal translation of Hebrews 4:16 goes like this:
Therefore let us approach with boldness the throne of grace that we might receive mercy and find grace for a well-timed help.
The familiar translation is “…and find grace for help in time of need.” There’s no contradiction between these two translations. The familiar one draws attention to our need. The literal one draws attention to God’s timing.
I think we need to be focused on the grace of God’s timing. When we have a need we feel very strongly about when God should act—usually now! It is not natural for us to think that God’s grace will be shown as much in the timing of it as in the form of it. But Hebrews 4:6 reminds us to seek God not only for the kind of grace we need but also for the timing of grace we need.
This can change our attitude in praying. God’s timing is often odd. Which is not surprising, since “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). The Lord can pack a thousand years of impact into one day (by prayer!). And he can take a thousand years to do a day’s work.
So it’s not surprising that "a well-timed help" might be different from God’s perspective than from ours. But his perspective is always best. It is always grace to us. It should always be trusted.
As a church we need’s God’s help. We need it for the sake of our own weak faith. We need to inflame the smoldering wicks of our zeal. We need it for empowering in evangelism. We need it for authentic worship. We need it for courage in righteous living. We need it to transform our teenagers into God-centered, humble, respectful young people. We need it for the protection and emboldening and joy of our missionaries. We need it for guidance in future planning. We need it to meet our year-end financial challenge.
In every one of these needs the Lord has “grace for a well-timed help.” Our duty is to approach him boldly as a church and “find” it and “receive” it from the throne of grace. We have every reason to believe he will hear us and help us at the proper time.
I love to think of the Lord’s sovereign timing. For example, Daniel says that the Lord “changes the times and the epochs” (Daniel 2:21). That means that the seasons of modest or immense blessing in our church are in the hands of God.
And he tells us to come boldly to his throne—his sovereign rule over our church—and seek grace for a well-timed help. So let’s come.
In the BITC Plenary Session on Wednesday, December 1 at 6:45 I will teach on prayer. Then on Wednesday, December 8 from 5:45 to 7:55 we will pray. Greg Dirnberger will lead us. Plan to come (for part or all of it). We are in great need. The Lord has great grace. He commands that we come boldly and seek it.
Fasting and praying for a “well-timed help,”