Beginning and Ending Prayer

Table SettingBeginning and Ending Prayer

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

We praise you for creating us, male and female, in your image, not for our glory, but yours in the beginning (Gen 1:27).

In humility, we confess that we have not always preferred to live in your light or to be good (Gen 1:3-4).

We give thanks that in creating heaven and earth you made your presence abundantly clear (Romans 1:19-20)

and that we might escape perdition through the death and resurrection of your son (1 Cor 15:3-4).

We beg you that we might choose the light and honor your son through the power of your Holy Spirit (John 14:6).

Through Jesus Christ, who is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 1:8), Amen.


Also see:

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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The Seat

ShipOfFools_web_10042015Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you
that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
(John 14:1-3 ESV)

The Seat

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Kindergarden in California was unsettling.

To get to class I had to walk east down the street,
out of the neighborhood,
across a big road and left around the cornor with lots of palm trees.
Then, it was just around the  side of the building,
up the steps and into the room.
My seat was in the middle.

But I missed my friends.

They all attended a school on our side of the road.
It was north through the neighborhood,
Then you just followed the street up a hill.
Then, it was just around the other side of the building,
Up the steps and into the room.
The empty seat was against the wall on the left.

My friends told me about it and there it was.

…On the way, a man in a car offered me a ride.
But my mom told me not to accept rides with strangers
So I told him: no thanks…

My friends were happy to see me.

The teacher at this school seemed a bit worried and upset.
She asked me a bunch of questions
and did not seem at all interested in teaching.

Pretty soon my mom came to get me.
She took me back to the other school
where they told me that I missed the Christmas party.
But because there wasn’t any snow I did not believe them

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Prayer Day 39: A Christian Guide to Spirituality by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Espera verano 2015
Espera verano 2015

Almighty God, gracious savior, spirit of truth. We praise you for being the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Grant us a discerning spirit to know the truth and a gracious spirit for sharing it. To you and you alone be the glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Padre Todopoderoso, Salvador Misericordioso, Espíritu de Verdad, te alabamos por ser el camino, la verdad, y la vida (Jn. 14:6). Concédenos un espíritu de discernimiento para conocer la verdad y un espíritu misericordioso para compartirla. A ti y sólo ti sea la gloria. En el nombre de Jesús oramos. Amén.

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JOHN 14: Jesus’ Farewell Consolation

Dead_flowers_102302013By Stephen W. Hiemstra

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV).

One of the simplest and most profound lessons that I learned in seminary was called a ministry of presence. It is a humble, silent ministry:  be there.

When my sister, Diane, passed away, I traveled to Philadelphia to attend the funeral at her home church.  Other than family, I knew almost no one. Yet, I remember the comfort of being with a crowd of some 350 perfect strangers. Their gift to me was a ministry of presence.  Words still cannot express my appreciation.

Jesus promises to never leave us orphans (v 18).  In this context, an orphan is a disciple whose teacher has died[1]. Jesus’ comment–But the Helper, the Holy Spirit (paraclete), whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (v 26)—speaks directly to his presence with us.  Paraclete actually means:  one who appears in another’s behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper (BDAG 5591).

When Jesus appears to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, he is actually modeling the role assumed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:14-35).  The paraclete is a powerful helper (v 27) who teaches us (v 26) and who grants us effective prayer (v 13) and peace (v 27)1. Other than Job 16:2, John is the only biblical author who speaks of the Holy Spirit using this word.

So Jesus says that we will not be alone, but he also says that our ultimate home is in heaven (vv 2-3).  The word, house, has several nuances.  It can mean a physical dwelling, a temple, a family, or a dynasty.  In 2 Samuel 7:7-16, a play on the word, house, is used by the Prophet Nathan to describe God’s covenant with King David.  When the Apostle Paul says that our—citizenship is in heaven—he is building on this same idea (Philippians 3:20).  Ours is a heavenly house, a heavenly family, and a heavenly destination.

Jesus [also] said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (v 6).  This statement reminds us of Deuteronomy 31:8 where God’s Shekinah cloud is pictured going before us. The word, truth, used here is interesting.  Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit (v 17) are described with this same word.  In Hebrew, the word truth (אֱמֶת) is spelled with three letters (alef, mem, tav)—the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet1.

What greater comfort could we have than to know that our savior is divine, is the alpha and the omega (all truth), and has final authority over life and death?


[1]Gary M. Burge. 2000.  The NIV Application Commentary:  John.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, pages 390-413.


  1. When Jesus speaks—do not let your hearts be troubled—who is he speaking to? (v 1). What is his advice?
  2. What house is Jesus referring to? (vv 2-3)
  3. Why is Jesus returning a second time? (v 3)
  4. Where is Jesus going? (vv 4-11)
  5. What does it mean to be going to the father? (vv 6-11)
  6. What three things is Jesus? (v 6)  How do they relate to the father?
  7. What greater works does Jesus refer to in verse 12?
  8. What does it mean to ask in Jesus’ name? (vv 13-14)
  9. How do we show love to Jesus? (vv 15, 21)What is wrapped between these two statements as a promise?
  10. Who is the helper? (v 16)
  11. What does it mean to be an orphan? (v 18)
  12. In particular, what is the promise in verse 21?
  13. In case you missed in verses 15-21, what is reiterated in verses 22-26? Who asks the question? What do we know about him?  (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55)
  14. What do you make of verse 27 which, in part, repeats verse 1?
  15. Why has Jesus said these things? Why will he stop talking? (vv 28-31)


JOHN 14: Jesus’ Farewell Consolation

Also see:

JOHN 15: The Vine and the Branches 

Vanhoozer: How Do We Understand the Bible? Part 1 

Roadmap of Simple Faith

Bothersome Gaps: Life in Tension

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

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