Have you ever wondered why we conclude prayer time with “amen”? Or why there are always a few members of the congregation who shout it after a particularly good point in Sunday’s sermon? It’s always worthwhile to educate ourselves about our faith—why we, as followers of Jesus, do the things we do.
The history of the word “amen” is quite interesting. The more you know about this little word, the more meaningful it will be each time you use it.
“Amen” Is a Vow
We first see the word “amen” in Numbers 5:22, used in context as a vow. “Amen” was originally used to conclude a solemn statement, to seal its validity and declare that statement genuine before God. When we say “amen,” we’re essentially saying we agree with what has been spoken and God can hold us accountable to that agreement.
God takes vows very seriously. As Deuteronomy 23:23 says: “You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.”
We should be conscious of this when we say “amen,” being careful that what we agree to is biblical and God-honoring.
“Amen” Indicates Agreement
As mentioned, “amen” indicates agreement. When we say “amen” to a prayer or sermon, we’re stating we agree with the truth spoken.
Why is “amen” associated with truth? Probably because “amen” means ”truth”! Jesus often began his sentences with “Verily, verily” or “Truly, truly” (John 3:3, differing depending on your translation). Directly translated, this means “amen, amen.” Jesus was affirming that the words He was about to speak were true and good. When we say “amen,” we do the same.
Jesus Is the Ultimate “Amen”
When we say, “In the name of Jesus, amen,” we are affirming both the power of Jesus’ name and the truth of that power. But our verbal “amens” are only as good as the God to whom we’re praying. Fortunately for us, Jesus is first and last Truth—the ultimate “amen” of this world.
Isaiah 65:16 calls God “the God of Truth.” Literally translated, this would be “the God of Amen.” Our “amen” is an echo of the ultimate truth we receive through Christ’s salvation. Each time we pray, we’re putting faith in this truth and affirming it in spirit and word. This is powerful! How easy it is to say “amen” as if it doesn’t matter—when it carries such incredible weight.
When we read Scripture and pray to the Lord, we can remember the significance of our “amen.” As we do, we preach the gospel to our hearts and minds with the reminder that Jesus is indeed “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14)