We say Amen all the time when we finish praying. But what exactly does is mean to close a prayer with the word, “Amen”? The final question of the Heidelberg Catechism answers it this way,
What does the word Amen mean?
It is true and certain.
For God has much more certainly
heard my prayer
than I feel in my heart
that I desire this of him.
While this is a helpful explanation, it has never really helped me to grow in my prayer life. It is an assurance, certainly. But what does it mean for me, as the one praying? Is there something more that my prayer requires of me than simply resting in an assurance that God has heard and he will now supernaturally break in and answer or not?
I ran across this succinct statement today as I was studying for my upcoming sermon.
“If Christian usage of “amen” is to be informed by the OT, then to say “amen” to a prayer should imply a commitment to pray and also to live, where appropriate, in such a way as to further the fulfillment of that prayer.” – “aman”, NIDOTTE, 1:422.
How different it would be if we each thought about what effect our prayers would have upon our own actions in bringing them about. Maybe then, we would be more reflective upon our prayers, act in accord with what we are asking and avoid that which would hinder them.
For example, to pray that God would help me to loose weight and be healthier, but then to continue to eat junk food, watch tv and never to exercise would not be consistent with declaring “Amen.” Or to pray that God would help me to be more humble but to always draw attention to my actions and to refuse to serve others in hidden ways, even doing menial things like washing the bathroom, is again incongruent with saying, “Amen.”
I am particularly struck by this poignant sentence. I often pray for my church and her ministries, and as a pastor I am fairly busy already, but it makes me consider it there aren’t other ways I might be able to support and encourage my leaders, our gospel work and the Kingdom of God. How do these words affect you?