Say Amen for the Right Reasons
The convention in the circles I move in is that the word “amen” is the concluding statement of a prayer. Most people give that word little thought—or if they do, it may seem no more than a comfortable ritual or trite tradition than anything significant.
Upon reflection, it seems that saying “amen” at the end of a prayer may be akin to telling God, “goodbye.”
In group settings, for the people who are listening to your prayer, “amen” is a signal that the prayer is over, that you are finished, or “I’m done.” It is now time for other activities to resume.
Lastly, for those who feel a need—be it of conviction or compulsion—to echo your “amen” with an “amen” of their own, it’s like saying, “I agree.”
Apparently, “amen” has three meanings: “goodbye,” “I’m done,” and “I agree.”
The Amplified Bible provides some additional insight, parenthetically rendering “amen” to mean “so be it” or “so let it be.”
The next time you pray in private, I challenge you to mix it up a bit and skip the “amen,” instead using “so be it” or “so let it be.” However, for public prayers, it may catch people off guard. So unless you’re with people you trust and who love you, it might be best to stick with the traditional “amen,” even if it has become a bit of a ritual.
Can anyone say “amen?”
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.