So May It Be!
"pray without ceasing"
I Thessalonians 5:17
This week we reach the end of the Lord’s Prayer as we look at the final word: Amen. It’s a word we use a lot, especially in the church. We not only use to most commonly end a time or personal or cooperate prayer, we also use it to exclaim our agreement. It’s used not only in worship services but often sneaks into our everyday life as well. Just the other day as I researching and pondering this post I caught myself saying, “Well amen to that,” as I talked with a friend. So what does this word so commonly used really mean?
Both the Old and New Testament translate and use it similarly. Throughout Scripture we see it used to attest to the praise and worship of God, especially at the end of a prayer or a doxology. This single word acknowledges that the words which were just spoken are true and valid. In the Old Testament it is also used as the confirmation of a divine curse or threat to a person (see Numbers 5:22, Deuteronomy 27:15). It is also used to confirm a task assigned to someone which can only be carried out with God’s help and within God’s will (see 1 Kings 1:36). In the New Testament, we see the same word translated as both “amen” and “truly.” This comes out most obviously in the Gospel when Jesus prefaces some of his teachings by saying “Truly, truly, I say to you…” (see Matthew 13:17).
So that’s how the word “amen” is used, but it doesn’t fully answer our question. What, exactly, does it mean? Martin Luther explains the word in the Small Catechism by saying, “That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and heard; for He Himself has commanded us so to pray, and has promised that He will hear us. Amen, Amen; that is, Yes, Yes, it shall be so.”
Yes, Yes it shall be so. Other theologians define “amen” as: So may it be! So will it be!
The use of the word amen is meant to say that something is immovably true. That all we know to be true about God is immovably true. God’s eternal Kingdom is immovably true. His sovereign will is immovably true. God’s daily provision and his pardoning grace are immovably true. His power to deliver us from the consequences of sin is immovably true. All of these things which we have been studying as part of the Lord’s Prayer are immovably true.
For me, it calls to mind driving through the mountains. To look up from the valley floor from the car and marvel at the snow covered peaks hundreds of feet above. There is no way a single person can lift up the millions of tons of rock and move it even a single inch. It is simply not in our power to do so. We could try every waking moment of every day for the rest of our lives and we would have no effect on pushing or pulling that mountain in any direction. They are immoveable. Yes, we have blasted paths for roads between and through them. Rivers and streams have carved paths for themselves through them over the years. But they haven’t actually moved any of them. They remain where they were the first human laid eyes on them. To say amen is to declare those words infinitely more true and sure than all of the mountains of the earth combined.
In closing our prayers with the word “amen,” it is not only the last breathing of desire for God to hear us and respond to our prayer, but also an expression of assured expectancy and confidence. So will it be! So will God’s Will be done! Amen becomes a prophecy of what God will do in response to our prayers. It allows us to live in calm expectation that all petitions will be accomplished.
That is something mind blowing to me personally. You see, I have to admit, I’m a rather timid pray-er most of the time. Too often it’s hard for me to believe God hears my prayers. I figure if I don’t pray boldly then I can’t be disappointed when things don’t work out the way I had hoped they would in the timing I would prefer they be done. But this small, little, four-letter word tells me I do have the right to be confident my prayers are heard.
Who knew one word had so much to say?
- Missed part of our series on the Lord’s Prayer? Follow the links below to catch up or read from the start!
Week #1 - Back to Basics
Week #2 - Big God, Big Home
Week #3 - What's in a Name?
Week #4 - The Kingdom of God
Week #5 - The Will of God
Week #6 - Just Enough for Just Today
Week #7 - The Terrible Petition
Week #8 - Resisting Temptation
Week #9 - For Thine Is
- When you think of something which is immovable, what do you think of?
- How confident are you in your prayers? A great book that reminded me to dare to dream big when it came to prayer was the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. It also has a video study which can be done with a small group available.