Everyone is familiar with the word “amen.” But have you ever taken the time to consider what it really means? Is ending our prayers with “amen” a mere ritual? Or is there a majestic richness to the word that is often missed?
First, “amen” is a universally recognized word that is far more significant than simply signing off or saying, “That’s all.” With the word “amen” we are in effect saying, “May it be so in accordance with the will of God.” It is a marvelous reminder that any discussion on prayer must begin with the understanding that prayer is a means of bringing us into conformity with God’s will, not a magic mantra that ensures God’s conformity to ours.
Furthermore, the word “amen” is a direct reference to Jesus, who taught us to pray “your will be done” (Matthew 6:10). In Revelation, he is referred to as the “Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation” (3:14). Jesus not only taught us to pray, “your will be done” but also modeled those words in his life. In his passionate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39, emphasis added).
Finally, although Jesus is our greatest example, he is certainly not our only example. His brother James warns those who are prone to “boast and brag” that they ought to pray instead, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). Christ’s closest friend during his earthly ministry, the apostle John, echoes the words of the Master when he writes, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14, emphasis added).
Next time you end your prayer time with the word “amen” it is my prayer that you will focus on the fact that far from being a formality, it is fraught with meaning. Not only is “amen” a direct reference to the Savior, but it is a reminder that even the seemingly insignificant details of our lives are under the Savior’s sovereign control.
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, The Prayer of Jesus: Secrets to Real Intimacy with God (Nashville:W Publishing Group, 2001).
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
1 John 5:14–15