The word amen is not Christianese for “prayer over.” It means something much more beautiful and significant.

I had a friend in college who thought because of our freedom in Christ we shouldn’t say “amen” to conclude our prayers.  So he started ending his prayers with “groovy” (you would have thought I was in college in the 1970s). He thought it was pretty cool, a little bit of needed rebellion against tired old Christian cliches. But amen is not the same as groovy.  Amen means “let it be, “so be it,” “verily,” “truly.”  When you finish your prayer with “Amen” you are saying, “Yes Lord, let it be so. According to your will, may it be.” It’s a final note of confirmation at the end of our prayers.

More than that, the Heidelberg Catechism reminds us that “amen” is also an expression of confidence. “Amen” means “This is sure to be!” It reminds me of this good news: “It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer, than that I really desire what I pray for” (Question and Answer 129). God is gracious to hear our prayers much better than we pray them. “Amen” bears witness to our desire for God’s purposes to be done and to God’s promise that they will. Your style may be groovy, but your prayers deserve an “amen.”

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13 thoughts on “What We Mean When We Say Amen”

  1. Tim H. says:

    I really benefited from John Piper’s comments on this when I read them a few years ago:

    Prayer is drawing on the account where God has deposited all his promises. Prayer is not hoping in the dark that there might be a God of good intentions out there. Prayer goes to the bank and draws on promises. Don’t miss the connection between the two halves of the verse: “All the promises of God find their YES in him. THAT [because of the promises!] is why we utter the Amen through him, to God for his glory.” Which leads to…

    4. AMEN Is a Full and Precious Word in Times of Prayer

    It doesn’t mean primarily, “YES, I have said all this prayer.” It means primarily, “YES, God has made all these promises.” AMEN means, YES, Lord, you can do it. It means, YES, Lord, you are powerful. YES, Lord, you are wise. YES, Lord, you are merciful. AMEN is like an exclamation point of faith in a prayer for help. Or an exclamation point of strong affirmation after a statement of God’s greatness.

  2. Mark B. says:

    Amen!Thanks for sharing, posts like this need to be continued for younger believers. Many people do not know why they say certain things or what they mean.

  3. Phillip says:

    All to the Glory of God.

  4. Tan says:

    Amen to that!

  5. Melody says:

    As awkward as this is – I’ve been in church my whole life and never known what “amen” meant and I’ve never thought to ask!

  6. David says:

    It seems that throughout Scripture, “Amen” was not used for prayers, but rather as a means of submission to elements of the law (several parts of Deuteronomy) and in the NT seems it was used in a similar fashion in response to acts of God or praises to God, and as an end to a discourse/epistle. Even the Lord’s Prayer does not end with Amen. When did people start using “Amen” to end prayers? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t, it just appears to be an extra-biblical application. A good one, but seemingly extra-biblical, though I admit I may be missing something. How can we apply the Biblical usage of the word? Seems we probably use it to mean the same thing, however we use it in a completely different context than it was used Scripturally. Should we end our sermons by saying “Amen” as the apostles ended their epistles? I really don’t think our churches would really feel the impact unless they resonated with what it stood for.

  7. Andrew says:

    Because we ask it in Jesus name – AMEN.

  8. anaquaduck says:

    a good reminder…it’s been a while since I have heard a three fold amen in song…

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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