Amen And So It Shall Be

Text:  Luke 11:1-13 and the Conclusion to the Lord's Prayer

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

We all say the word Amen.  Some people pronounce it ah-men, while others pronounce it ay-men.  There are also phrases that are used in our popular culture in connection to the word Amen.  Phrases such as:

Amen to that!

Amen, brother!

Can I get an Amen?

Furthermore, we say the word Amen in a variety of different contexts.  We say Amen after a dinner prayer in our homes, we say it after praying the Lord’s Prayer in church, we say it after our nightly prayers, and we will even hear it spoken on television and social media when a person wants to express agreement to a particular sentiment.  Indeed, the word Amen is used at least every week in our vocabulary, if not every single day. 
Now, with all of that said, I do wonder if we are fully aware of what we are saying when we use the familiar word Amen.  Is the word Amen simply a word that is used to notify the end of a prayer?  Is it a religious gush that pious people say in order to look and appear holy?  Or is it something more?

The word Amen actually comes from a word that means firm, steady, trustworthy, true, and faithful.  The word Amen is a solid word; it is not flimsy.  It is not a word that is to be spoken with a hushful pious sounding whisper, but rather, a word that is to be spoken with a loud, firm, and convicting declaration.  It is a word that communicates sureness, certainty, and confidence.[1] 

Pagans will sometimes use the word Amen from time to time, which really does not mean much; however, when the word Amen comes out of the mouth of a Christian, we must take notice.  Yes, when you say the word Amen, it is not just a bold confident two syllable word, but rather, it is much more. 

Baptized Saints, to put this another way, when we say the word Amen, it is the voice of our faith.  The word Amen coming from our mouths communicates nothing else than the unquestioned faith.  Surely, when we pray and end our prayers with the word Amen, we are confessing that our prayer is not a prayer that is offered as a matter of luck or a shot in the dark, but rather a prayer that is actually heard by the God of the universe!  Indeed, when we say the word Amen, we are actually confidently asserting in faith that God has heard our cry for mercy, help, and grace.  The word Amen is a bold confession that our prayer was not cast out of our mouths into endless space, but heard by our loving Father.    

But why can we be so certain that our prayers are heard?  What gives us the right to say Amen?  Why should we be so bold to boast that God hears us Christians when we pray? 

The answer is this.  We can say Amen because Jesus invites us and teaches us to pray boldly to God as dear children talk to their dear Father.  In other words, if there was no faith and no Christ and no forgiveness of sin and no baptism, there would be no Amen and no prayer.  But there is and that is why we say Amen and that is why we pray.  Yes, Jesus extends this invitation to us because He shed His blood to break down the wall of sin that stood between us and the Father.  Jesus makes us children of God.  The Holy Spirit gives us faith that receives Jesus and His benefits.  Through the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, we are the children of God, the heirs of His Kingdom, and He gives us the right to pray boldly and to end our prayers with the sure word of Amen.

And so we pray and we pray with an Amen at the end of our prayers.  We ask in faith of our needs, knowing that the Lord hears the cries of His children. 

But what are we to do when it seems like the Lord God does not answer our prayers? 

Lord, I don’t have a paycheck, my health is failing, and I am all alone.  Oh, and that neighbor is out to destroy me.  Help me, Lord.  Deliver me.  Preserve me.  Protect me.  Give me this day my daily bread, and forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.  Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

Dear friends, even in situations like this, we still say the word Amen!  The reason why?  The Lord typically does not answer prayers the way that we think they should be answered, for the Lord’s ways are not our ways and our ways are not the Lord’s ways.  Frankly, the Lord does not respond to our prayers by saying,

Here is a winning lottery ticket.  That should solve all your problems.  Now go away and be quiet and leave me alone! 

“That’s not how God works.  That’s how we often work.  We try to solve problems—even spiritual problems—not by getting at the root cause of the problem, but by simply throwing money or goods at the problem until it goes away.  Sadly, that’s what we sometimes want from God.  That’s what we sometimes unfaithfully pray for—full bellies and full bank accounts.  Just mask the problem and make it out of sight and out of mind.  But those sorts of loveless, empty materialistic responses don’t make the problem go away, especially when the problem is a trust problem; a trust in God above all things problem.  Those false materialistic crutches and promises are the lies of the devil.”[2]

My brothers and sisters in Christ, when we end our prayers with the word Amen, it is the voice of our faith confessing that we not only know that the Lord has heard our prayers, but that He will answer our prayers in the way that is best.  You see, we must never forget that when the Lord answers yes to our specific requests, it is because He loves us.  When He answers no, it is because he loves us.  And most importantly we must not forget that the Lord always answers our prayers by strengthening our faith in His promises.  Indeed, the Lord answers our prayers by strengthening our faith so that we can hold up the Lord’s promises in the midst of whatever storm we might be going through, and say,

You oh God are enough.  You are good.  You will take care of me, you will satisfy me.  You will get me through this.  You are my treasure.  Whom have I in heaven by you?  And on earth there is nothing that I desire beside you.  My flesh and my heart and my life may fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.[3]

The Amen to our prayers is our bold confession of our faith that the Lord is in control.  It is a bold confession of you and me saying that the Lord has heard our prayers.  It is a bold confession that the Lord will answer our prayers as is best. 

Indeed, the church’s word is Amen.  Amen to Baptism.  Amen to the Word.  Amen to the body and blood of the Lord.  Amen to our prayers.  Amen today, tomorrow, and forever, for “the throne room of heaven lies open before us.  [Yes,] God is ready to listen to whatever we have to tell Him.  The privilege of prayer is there for all who believe.  It is one of the many gifts God gives to us with His presence here in time and forever in eternity.”[4]

In the name of Jesus:  Amen.

[1] New Bible Dictionary: Third Edition, ed. I Howard Marshall, A.R. Millard, J.I. Packer and D.J. Wiseman (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1996), 29.

[2] Jason Zirbel, “Unanswered Prayers?” LCMS Sermons, (accessed March 15, 2016).

[3] Paraphrase of Psalm 73:25-26.

[4] James T. Batchelor, “Tenth Sunday after Pentecost,” LCMS Sermons, (accessed March 15, 2016).

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