Q: #350. Why do we say "Amen" when we finish praying?
By: Steve Shirley
A: The word "amen" is actually a Hebrew word which Strong's says is an adverb meaning "truly, genuinely; so be it." The word "amen" is exactly the same in Hebrew, Greek, and English, with the same meaning. This word is also used in 76 verses in the Gospels by Jesus, and it is translated as "verily" in the KJV or "truly" in the NASB. Every time Jesus uses this word, it is followed by the words, "I say unto you" (or "thee"). Saying this another way, it might read: "What I am telling you is true."
Each time "verily" or "truly" is used in the Gospel of John, it is used twice ("Verily, verily"). When a word like this is used back to back in the Bible, it signified that what was being said was VERY important. For example, (Jn 3:3) says, "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Jesus did this same thing with people's names several times when He had something important to say to them (Lk 10:41-42)(Lk 22:31-32)(Acts 9:4)(Mt 23:37). (God also did this in the Old Testament: i.e. Gen 22:11, Gen 46:2, Ex 3:4, 1 Sam 3:10.)
While Jesus often used this word at the beginning of a sentence to state the significance (and truth) of what was to follow, we often use this word at the end of something we have heard or said to affirm it's significance (and truth). The most common instance of this, of course, is at the end of prayer. We usually say "amen" at the end of our own prayers, as well as at the end of corporate prayers (like when our pastor finishes praying in church). When we do this, we are basically agreeing with, and affirming that what was just said is true, and also saying "so be it" or "let it be done," meaning that we are asking God to grant our petitions.
The Bible gives us many examples of using "amen" at the end. I would consider the most important to be when Jesus gave His disciples the model for the perfect prayer, The Lord's Prayer (Mt 6:9-13), He ended it with "amen." In doing this, He gave us the pattern for how to end our prayers. In addition, several books of the New Testament end in "amen," including Revelation, signifying that what was written was "true" and "trustworthy." Several places in the Old Testament repeat "amen" twice ("Amen and Amen") at the end of important sections (Ps 41:13)(Ps 72:19)(Ps 89:52)(Neh 8:6), again signifying, as we said above, that what had been said was VERY important.
Paul used "Amen" a number of times at the end of a statement he made to emphasize an important truth about God. Here are some examples in Romans:
(Rom 1:25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
(Rom 9:5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
(Rom 11:36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
(Rom 15:33) Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
(Rom 16:25-27) Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, (26) But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: (27) To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
One other way you might hear "amen" used today is, for example, when a pastor is preaching, someone might say "amen," indicating that they agree with something he said, and that it is true.
In closing, let's look at one final thing. In (1 Cor 14:16), in relation to speaking in tongues, it says that someone hearing a person speaking tongues cannot say "Amen" if they do not understand what is being said. Therefore, the tongues must be interpreted. In other words, they cannot say "so be it," or "let it be done," or agree with, and affirm that what was just said is true if they cannot understand it. I believe we can carry this principle out to other issues as well. Based on what we said above, it seems logical to say that we should not say "Amen" in several instances.
1. If we do not understand what has been said.
2. If we do not agree with what was said.
3. If there is not truth in what was said. (Including at the end of a prayer.)
P.S. Jesus is also called the "Amen" in (Rev 3:14).