And All God’s People Said…

September 19, 2017
Micki Ann Harris

In unison around the family dinner table; arising bedside from bended knees;

among two or more - hands clasped, heads bowed; or ascending from the congregation   

-- you will hear it.

Spoken by the rich and the poor, the young and the old - every race, gender, and tongue; uttered among Protestants, Catholics, Anglican, and Orthodox - Christians, Muslims, Jews as well.

All who pray say Amen.  

I’ve been thinking about that word, amen. 

When you are full time in prayer ministry, it’s kind of unavoidable.

How is it that we all use the same word to end our prayers? What does it really mean, and is there something I’m missing about its value?

With so much agreement found around such a small word, what exactly are we saying?

I asked 20 people this question: “What does ‘Amen’ mean to you?”

Their immediate responses fell mostly into the following categories:

“I agree.”

“Let it be so.” || “So be it.”

“I’m done praying.”

A few additional responses were:

“I think it’s just praising God.”  

“It’s the stamp on our envelope as we send our prayers to God.”

For the most part, we use the word amen as the conclusion to our prayer - kind of like a punctuation mark. Outside of prayer, it is understood to be a word of agreement regarding something that has just been spoken, secular or spiritual: “Yes, I agree!”   

As you study the word, you realize that it is found over a hundred times in the Bible with varied uses. Surprisingly, a mandate for concluding a petitionary prayer isn’t one of them. Yes, it does appear after the Lord’s Prayer; but in this instance as in many others it is following the praise, not necessarily the petition.

My hope in this blogpost isn’t to do a word study on the word amen, (see footnote below this post if you want an abbreviated one) but to share some thoughts that I hope will serve to inspire a renewed conviction as to its importance and potency in unified worship and in prayer. C.H Spurgeon says, “If anything should lead to the revival of its use more generally in public worship, it will be a matter of great congratulation.” To this, I say, Amen! (And, challenge accepted!)

So, where does one begin when you have a hunch that a common and widely used word means much more than what you had previously thought ? How about here:

Jesus IS the Amen:

“...These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.” Rev 3:14

The fact that Amen is one of the names of Jesus affects everything about the word. How incredible to look at the word amen and find Christ there! He is the faithful and true witness.

Jesus is God’s Amen:

All of God’s plans, His promises, the purposes in His heart before the foundation of the world — all that was foreshadowed, foretold, and prophesied is now fulfilled according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus was the Amen of God from everlasting; He was the faithful and true witness in agreement of the eternal plan, and He is the faithful and true witness in its fulfillment.  He is the “it is finished” that does not end.

In the Name of Jesus who is the Amen:

When someone I love is sick and I pray for their healing, I close the prayer by saying, “In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” Think about this...

My desire for the sick to be healed is stated in the content of the words I pray; but, in my closing phrase, following my expressed desire lies the most important part of my prayer where the basis of my faith to even utter the prayer is evidenced -  

In Jesus’ Name who IS the Amen.

My prayer says, “So be it, let there be healing!”

My amen says, “It is so, In Christ!”

Within the amen is a plea and a proclamation! “Let it be; It is so!”

Amen seems the token conclusion of our prayers, but in reality it is the reason our prayers can be prayed, for in it lies the hope for their answers. Answers to prayer are made possible in Jesus who is named The Amen. It is what makes my prayer non-laughable and not ridiculous. I proclaim, “God, this is why I can ask this of you - Because in Christ, I have relationship with you; In Christ, I have an eternal intercessor pleading on my behalf; In Christ all of your promises are fulfilled; By His stripes we are made whole!” Amen!

“When you pray, dear friend, you say Amen. Did you think of Christ? Did you look to His wounds? Did you offer your prayer through Him? Did you ask Him to present it before God? Did you expect to be heard by the virtue of His intercession? If not, there is no Amen to your prayer. But if you have prayed, though it were but a sigh or a tear, if you were looking to the cross, Jesus Christ’s blood said Amen, and your prayer is as certain to be heard in heaven as it was on earth; as sure if it came from your inmost soul and Christ was pleaded in it; the answer must certainly come.” (Spurgeon)

God’s Yes and our Amen:

“For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding "Yes!" And through Christ, our "Amen" (which means "Yes") ascends to God for his glory.”

2 Cor 1:20

What an astounding verse of Scripture!

In this passage we have two voices - The one is God’s voice, the other is man’s.

In Christ, God has voiced a resounding,“YES!” to His eternal purposes for the world: Yes to salvation, to redemption, to adoption and communion with God; Yes to all of His promises and His abiding Presence; Yes to guidance and eternal hope! In Christ are unending yesses!!

Because God has spoken a resounding, “Yes!” in Christ -  what response is left for us, the Church, but a resounding, “AMEN!”?

It is a poor compliment to God to come to His most veracious affirmations, sealed with the broad seal of His Son’s life and death, and to answer with a hesitating ‘Amen,’ that falters and almost sticks in our throat. (Maclaren)

Amen and Unity:

It is difficult to get people to pray together in our nation. There may initially be a strong conviction to do so, and a heartfelt desire for the prayer meetings to be sustained - but many times we just have a hard time relationally in praying with one another. Differing styles of praying, levels of maturity, choices of words in the prayers themselves, etc.. But, what potential for unity we have in this inoffensive four letter word! We may disagree even in the content of one another’s prayers; but in our Amen alone we make a powerful proclamation/declaration.

The early Church was known to give a resounding, “Amen!” in the giving thanks to God. Amen to prayers, Amen to thanksgiving, Amen to the proclamation of Truth!

“We have it put on record by Jerome, (5th century translator and commentator) that at Rome the people were so accustomed to say amen in the gatherings of the early Christians - so heartily, I might add, so lustily, that it was like the dash of a cataract or a clap of thunder.” (Spurgeon)

Unity occurs as we collectively voice our “Amen!” to all of God’s promises that are ‘Yes!’ in Christ.

Amen and Worship:

In Christ is the "yea" of immutable promise and absolute fulfilment; the Church utters the "Amen" of perfect faith and grateful adoration - (Pulpit Commentary)

I mentioned earlier that most of the references of amen in the Bible are in agreement to the worship of God. In fact, when I took my initial survey - asking what amen meant to a group of people personally, it was an 8 year old child who answered, “I think it’s just praising God.”  

Amen is the word God’s people have always used to agree that He is eternally worthy of adoration and unceasing praise. “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the LORD.’” 1 Chron 16:36

It is fitting now that God’s people should, like Israel and the early Church, give a resounding, Amen! “heartily and lustily,” “like a clap of thunder.”

Where is the corporate, emphatic agreement?

Where is the volume?

Our worship has become too tame.

Finally, our Amen is eternal. Forever, our united worship will join with the celestial one -- it will never end. Quite possibly it will be only one of a few words we can bring our mouths to utter as we live in stunned amazement before him. For every facet of His glorious beauty which is progressively, eternally revealed - all of God’s people will cry, “Amen! Amen! Amen!...”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. Rev 5:13-14

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”   Rev 7: 11-12




Footnote: The meaning of Amen

“Amen is an interjection associated with the Hebrew words for truth and dependability, it conveys the idea of agreement or emphasis, and its meaning can be translated different ways depending on the context.”

In a very overly simplified summation: The Old Testament has various uses, the most common being to join in on the praises of God “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD.” Psalm 106:48 or to confirm that a statement is true: “Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king say so too.” 1 Kings 1:36

In The New Testament, Jesus uses the word repeatedly to set up something he was about to say that you could count on as absolutely true. (“Amen, amen…,” translated:  “Verily, verily… or Truly”). This sets a new precedent, thereby emphasizing His authority. “Here the amen implies that Jesus' words, like the Father's, are true merely because he utters them.”

Throughout the Epistles, you find the word following a praise, a blessing or doxology; and in Revelation it occurs numerous times. “Amen also closes spontaneous doxologies in Revelation; there, however, the object of praise is more often the Son than the Father. In all this Paul and Revelation resemble the Jewish custom of the day, in which Jews said amen when they heardanother bless the Lord whether in private prayer ...or in worship. But they surpass it in the sheer spontaneity and enthusiasm of their praises.”

Commentaries used: Maclaren, Clarke, Pulpit, Gill, Henry, Spurgeon -