Don’t Say Amen!
I have a confession. Growing up, it seemed the preachers always used at least one Hebrew or Greek word in every sermon to help clarify or explain the biblical text. This was good. It was helpful. I appreciated it. But I also assumed if I didn’t understand a word or phrase in the worship service, it must be Hebrew or Greek. So, my youthful observation led me to assume the word “Amen” was either Hebrew or Greek for “Sit down.” Every time someone ended a prayer with the word “Amen” we all sat down. It made sense. As I grew older and wiser, I understood the “Amen” was not a command to be seated, but rather a concluding thought to the prayer, meaning, “So be it.” However, the word came to mean “Over and out” or “Signing off here” or just “Good bye for now” and I understood why it was used in public prayer – to indicate the prayer was concluded, and it was indeed time to be seated. But why use the word in private prayer? No one else needed to know the one praying in private was finished with the prayer. Why not leave the prayer open-ended? Maybe God wasn’t finished. After all, prayer is two-way communication isn’t it? How about employing a time of silence before ending your private prayer? Listen for God. The Psalmist ended a prayer with the words, “Truly my soul silently waits for God . . . wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:1, 5). As the Psalmist waited in silence, two thoughts came to him. “God has spoken . . . power belongs to God” (Psalm 62:11) and that God would “render to each one according to his work” (Psalm 62:12). Although the Psalmist was disturbed by his circumstances to the point of prayer, he found comfort as he stopped talking to God and started listening to God. So next time you pray in private, don’t say “Amen.” Listen and let God conclude your prayer.