Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may find grace for a well-timed help. (Hebrews 4:16, my literal translation)
I know this precious verse is usually translated, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” But that is a paraphrase — a true one — to show that God shows up just when we need him. But the literal focus is on how timely the help is.
All ministry is in the future — a moment away, or a month away, or a year, or a decade. We have ample time to fret about our inadequacy. When this happens, we must turn to prayer.
Prayer is the form of faith that connects us today with the grace that will make us adequate for tomorrow’s ministry. Timing really matters.
What if grace comes too early or comes too late? The traditional translation of Hebrews 4:16 does not make clear a very precious promise in this regard. We need a more literal rendering to see it. The promise is not merely that we find grace “to help in time of need,” but that the grace is well-timed by God.
The point is that prayer is the way to find future grace for a well-timed help. This grace of God always arrives from the “throne of grace” on time. The phrase “throne of grace” means that future grace comes from the King of the universe who sets the times by his own authority (Acts 1:7).
His timing is perfect, but it is rarely ours: “For a thousand years in [his] sight are but as yesterday when it is past” (Psalm 90:4). At the global level, he sets the times for nations to rise and fall (Acts 17:26). And at the personal level, “My times are in [his] hand” (Psalm 31:15).
When we wonder about the timing of future grace, we must think on the “throne of grace.” Nothing can hinder God’s plan to send grace when it will be best for us. Future grace is always well-timed.