So What's with "Amen?"

I was not raised in a "churched" family. That means we did not attend church (although for a brief time my twin brother and I were sent off to Sunday School at a nearby Lutheran church). God was present in our home but only in a nominal sense. So I was taught a few "stock" prayers as a child. At supper it was "God is great and God is good,  and we thank Him for our food; by His hands we all are fed, Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen." And then there was the bedtime prayer: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mommy and Daddy, Grandma and Gramps, Inky and Tipsy (my dog and cat) -- although as I reflect back I don't think I ever prayed for my cat!), etc. .... Amen."  Now as a youngster, I really did not understand all that I was praying (especially with that bedtime prayer ... I mean what little kid thinks about dying and having the Lord take his soul? I did not even know what a "soul" was!). I also did not really understand what that "magical" word "amen" was all about. All I knew was if you tacked it on to a prayer ... then somehow God would be more prone to hear and respond.

I wonder how many Christians really get the meaning and the importance of that four letter word? This morning, I was reading some comments on prayer written by Martin Luther, the "father" of the Protestant Reformation. Luther understood the meaning and reason for using the word, "Amen" to end a prayer ... any prayer. Take a moment and read what he had to say.

"Finally, mark this, that you must always speak the Amen firmly. Never doubt that God in his mercy will surely hear you and say “yes” to your prayers. Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, all devout Christians, are standing there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition which God cannot disdain. Do not leave your prayer without having said or thought, “Very well, God has heard my prayer; this I know as a certainty and a truth.” That is what Amen means" (from the book, Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer). 

So for Luther, closing prayer with an "amen" is important because it demonstrates that the one praying really believes his prayer has been heard and that God will respond in accord with his perfect will (see 2 Corinthians 1:18-20).

SO ... the next time you pray ... say that "AMEN" with a heartfelt confidence that the God of the universe HEARD you and will RESPOND!

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