Let it be so
For about two years, back in 2003, I was involved in a ministry called “International Praise & Worship” at the VU in Amsterdam. We’d organize a time of worship during the lunch break on Tuesday at the university. We got permission at some point even to do this in the cafeteria which was absolutely fantastic.
With the worship team and the leader of this ministry, we would always pray right before we’d start. In this noisy room, it was always a bit tough to hear each other, but we prayed with passion. And every time, the leader would pray the last prayer and finish prayer time, but without saying ‘amen’ – and then immediately moving on to some instructions. This would always result in one or two of us standing there reverently with our eyes closed, realizing after 20 seconds: “wait a moment, prayer is done, we are talking about something else now”. It just helps ending your prayer with a solid AMEN.
The word AMEN, however, doesn’t actually mean: ‘the end’, or ‘that’s it, moving on’. The meaning of this word is a lot more profound. The word AMEN is a Hebrew word that is transliterated – meaning that the original word is just left untranslated. And so, in every language around the globe, people end their prayers with the very same word: AMEN. Except for that one guy I just told you about…
AMEN means: firm, unshakable, let it be so, sure, secure!
It is a very strong ending to a prayer. Ending a prayer with AMEN confirms that the prayer you prayed is something you stand for. It is something you prayed with confidence. It is a seal to the prayer. “I’m fully behind this!”
In the Old Testament we see it used as a response to the law and to worship – a confirmation, yes, we accept this. It's like a sign on the dotted line. "I lift up my life to the level of that amen". It's coming from my heart, not from my head. So, AMEN is not something that you can say lightly.
Through our AMEN, we say: "These are not just words that I prayed, I'm agreeing with it, and I want to see it reflected in my life as well!"
AMEN says that you are submitting to God's will. You see,God is not bound by your amen. With amen, we are aligning with God's amen. By saying AMEN we express that anything that was out of line, anything that I didn’t pray according to Your will, I'm submitting it back to You. I submit to where You want this to go.
JESUS’ USE OF ‘AMEN’
Let’s look at how Jesus uses the word AMEN. In the Gospel of John Jesus uses the word AMEn 25 times. But He doesn’t just say AMEN, He says AMEN-AMEN.
Double points to emphasis. It’s not just AMEN, it is AMEN-AMEN. Really? Really-Really. Think also of phrases like the “King of Kings” and “Lord of lords”.
But here, the word AMEN which occurs in its Hebrew form in the Greek text of the New Testament is translated, so you may not have recognized it as AMEN. It is often translated as “truly, truly” or “very truly” or “I tell you the truth”. Or perhaps in the yet to be written Urban Tranlsation: “I’m gonna give it to ya straight.”
So, when Jesus says AMEN-AMEN, you know that you’d better pay attention. Any word that Jesus is speaking is something you want to pay attention to, when He says AMEN-AMEN before he starts, you are at the edge of your seat. Here are a couple of examples.
John 3:3 “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
John 6:47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.
John 8:34 “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
John 13:20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.
John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
These things are sure. They are secure! Jesus is not giving an opinion or a suggestion. He says: This is true!
JESUS IS THE AMEN
Question to you: who starts their prayer with AMEN?
No one. Right? Jesus introduced what He is going to see with a double AMEN. "What I'm going to say is trustworthy". Jesus could do this, because JESUS IS THE AMEN.
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
Jesus is God’s AMEN. He is the reason why we can say AMEN at the end of a prayer, because we know that God is good for His Word.
Everything that He promised, all prophecy, the law, all hope and expectation and our complete salvation is fulfilled and completely secure in Jesus, because He died and rose again on the third day!
2 Corinthians 1:20
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
This is how Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message:
2 Corinthians 1:20-22
Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.
If you are wondering if God is good for His word. Jesus is God's amen. It's true. Let it be so. It is finished. It is sure. Our salvation is secure. God is faithful. All His promises are YES and AMEN in Christ Jesus.
HOW THIS UNDERSTANDING OF ‘AMEN’ AFFECT OUR PRAYERS
1. We pray with confidence
Because Jesus is the AMEN that came from heaven, we can pray with confidence, and end our prayers with a firm AMEN. I know that God hears me, I know that in Jesus I am a son of the living God and so I know that when I pray, He hears me.
Our salvation is secure in Jesus. We are called sons and daughters of the King. We are invited to influence the future through prayer. We have been given a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to pray for our families, for the people around us, for our cities and our countries.
In the Old Testament we find this picture of what prayer is like. On their way to the Promised Land the Israelites are attacked by the Amalekites, one of the cruelest people they would encounter. This is how they fought:
Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
I believe that, in the same way, God is using our prayers to accomplish His will.
Through prayer, we are standing in the gap between the anticipated will of God and the accomplished will of God.
1 John 5:14-15
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.
2. We pray with power
Sometimes it might feel like your prayers have no effect. You keep on praying and keep on praying, but nothing happens. And you know that prayer is in line with God’s will – but why is there no result?
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly (AMEN) I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
I say: AMEN! But also: Really?? But why hasn't my mountain moved even one inch?
Nowadays, when a big building needs to be torn down, it is done with explosives. But in the past, they would use wrecking balls for it. One hit with a wrecking ball is extremely powerful – but that one hit is not enough to bring the building down.
For some things, we need to keep on praying, keep on praying and keep on praying. And every time we finish that prayer with an AMEN, that wrecking ball hits the building again. We don’t know how many prayers it is going to take to bring that building down, but we’re surely going to keep on praying and keep on believing!
3. We stop praying halfway prayers
Let’s stop praying prayers that are completely lacking in faith, confidence and power. When you pray, understand that you are talking to a God that is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
Let’s not pray any more prayers that we cannot really put an AMEN to. But understanding that we have been given space to have influence through prayer, pray with full confidence, without doubt and in power – Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, in my life, in my family, at my work, in this city, in this country. For Yours is the Kingdom and the glory and the power.