Many church-going believers tend to adopt a pattern of being silent and responding solemnly to prayers and sermons. However, it is worth asking if this is what the Lord God intended for our churches. The answer to this question can be found in the Scripture.
In Nehemiah chapter 8, there is an incredible scene that we could easily align our modern-day church services with and find them to be a parallel experience. Ezra stands on a wooden platform, praises God, opens the word of God, and begins to preach God's word. His audience, the children of Israel, respond with the lifting up of their hands and the words "Amen, Amen."
Throughout the Bible, we read of this unique word: Amen. Today, hundreds of languages say the word Amen, but the original Hebrew word has remained intact for thousands of years. A word that doesn't change and has the same meaning in all languages should be recognized as unique to the Lord. But what is the significance of this word? Is it just meant to be a punctuation at the end of a prayer?
Let's examine the use and importance of this unique word, Amen.
The Purpose of Amen
In our text, the children of Israel hear the word of God preached in their promised land for the first time in 70 years. As they hear Ezra give praise to God, they can't help but respond with "Amen." And when the promises of God are preached, they can't help but respond with "Amen."
"Amen" appears nearly 75 times as the Hebrew word "Amen" in our English KJV Bibles; its meaning is understood to be truly, so be it, an agreement or affirmation of something to be absolutely true.
For instance, "Are you alive today? Amen! Are you reading this post right now? Amen! Did you have breakfast today? Amen!.. for some. Is Jesus Christ the Son of God? Amen!"
"Amen" is a word that agrees with and affirms a statement as truth. In other Jewish writings, the Amen was used in three ways: 1) An Oath -Sworn in, 2) Agreement with a Statement, and 3) Confirmation of a Statement.
Interestingly, Jesus did not tag the "Amen" at the end of His prayers as a punctuation to end His prayer. He used the Hebrew Amen to begin His statements to affirm that what He was about to say was true or to conclude a truth, declaring it as truth.
The KJV translators chose the English words "Verily, verily" to begin statements like, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24).
It may have been because of the everyday use of "Amen" to close a prayer in 1611. But under the English is the Hebrew word Amen - Reading "[Amen, Amen], I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24)
And so the purpose of the Amen is meant to echo one's approval and belief of a Truth.
The Performance of Amen
As a congregation, the people of Israel spoke in unison, their voices resounding with the powerful word, "Amen, amen." And so we see that Amen is meant to be a congregational response of an affirmation or agreement of something to be true.
When we agree with God's truth, it is important to respond audibly. We can do this by speaking out loud, whispering, raising a hand, nodding, grunting, or saying "Mmm" (some preachers know what I'm talking about). However we choose to respond, it is essential to give God what He deserves and acknowledge Him with a hearty "Amen" to praise Him.
In essence, "Amen" is a way for the congregation to become an active part of a sermon or prayer. By saying "Amen," you acknowledge the truth or wisdom of what has been spoken and join together in your shared belief with "Amen!".
The Power of Amen
Your "Amen" confirms before God and man that you believe, agree, or confirm what has been said/read. The power of the Amen is its echoing effect of truth. It is not just a word but a word of confirmation and agreement. It is a word that causes the listener to get involved in the sermon or prayer.
One's "Amen" is not for show but for God's glory. Your "Amen" confirms that what is being said is true. It confirms before God and man that you believe, agree, or confirm what has been said or read.
The word "Amen" confirms one's understanding of truth. As stated in 1 Corinthians 14:15-16, "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?"
Jesus used it in Revelation 1:18, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." The power of the Amen is its echoing effect of truth. It is not just a word but a word of confirmation and agreement. It is a word that causes the listener to get involved in the sermon or prayer.
To God in heaven, your "Amen" is a word of agreement and belief in what He has said. It is appropriate, even Biblical, to say "Amen" when you hear a truth, whether a future promise or a firm, truthful statement.
"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." - Amen!
"All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire..." - Amen!
"He that believeth on Me is not condemned." - Amen!
"If I go ... I will come again and receive you unto Myself". - Amen!
To those around us, it is a testimony of our agreement and belief in what is being said. Sometimes, we can let our faith be quiet in our hearts. But, one's faith was never meant to be quiet. Seeing Israel as an example, they are known for loud wailing and praise.
Our faith in God and His promises should be bold and loud. Not stealing the attention of Christ but celebrating Christ with 'Amen!' and even praising God with 'Hallelujah.' These affirmations keep us engaged in prayer or a sermon by letting our 'Amen' echo the truth.
The Person of Amen
A hearty Amen echoes, affirms, and agrees with a truth. In addition, the Amen represents One sole figure in the Scriptures. Take a look at the following verse from the Old Testament: "That he who blesses himself on earth will also bless himself in the God of truth [Amen]. And he who swears on earth will swear by the God of truth [Amen]." (Isaiah 65:16) - Here, the word translated "truth" is the Hebrew word Amen.
The Scriptures confirm that only God is the God of the Amen! Later in the New Testament, a similar use of Amen is found: "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness" (Revelation 3:14).
The God of Amen from the Old Testament is a reference to Jesus Christ, who is the embodiment of "truly, so be it."
2 Corinthians 1:20 reads, "For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." In other words, Christ is our Amen, and all of God's promises in Christ are Amen!
As a believer, my Amen confirms God's promises in Christ, my Savior.
In conclusion, the word Amen is more than just a punctuation at the end of a prayer. It has a unique purpose, performance, power, and Person. As Christians, we should not be afraid to respond to God's truth with the lifting up of our hands and/or the word "Amen, Amen." It is a powerful testimony of our agreement, belief in His promises, and acknowledgment of Christ, the faithful and true witness.
As I was meditating on this truth, I began to think that if my words can agree and confirm God's truth, how about my life? My words, actions, and attitude can all agree with the truth of scripture simply by my obedience and effort to live godly in this present world.
Let our prayer be, "Lord, let my life be an endless Amen unto You."