Ne 8:6 “And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”
Someone recently posted what I view as a profoundly hilarious idea on Twitter, “I think Chick Fil A should have a combo meal called the Amen. You could walk up to the counter and say “Can I get an Amen?” Small words can make a big difference in more than just the restaurant industry. There is none with more implications to the believer than the word we often too carelessly use to close our prayers, the word “Amen.” As one author put it, “It is a kind of Super-yes. It signals—if it is truly sincere—a large enthusiasm, a deep commitment, and a resolve to follow through in practice. In Scripture it boils down to agreeing with God, completely and without reservation.” What is interesting is that to say “amen” is to also utter a prayer to God, ourselves, and those witnesses around us. In essence, “amen” invites heaven to witness our commitment and essentially declares “Lord, help me to keep your word both now and forever.”
Here are some tangible steps to truly add “amen” sentiment to your prayers:
Make “Amen” the first prayer by which you consistently respond to God’s word.
The returned exiles in Jerusalem gathered in a solemn assembly to hear God’s Word. “Ezra the priest” was to read from the “the Book of the Law of Moses” (v. 1). This was a day, remember, in which no one had his own copy of Scripture. Public reading was vitally important because that was where God’s people heard God’s Word. It surely says something of their hunger for the Word of God that “from morning until midday” they were ready to listen to it being read and taught (v.3). Be poised to say “Amen” provides that kind of sustaining attention to divine revelation.
When you hear the Word of God given “distinctly, sense, and understanding” (v.8), the first word out of the enlightened heart should be nothing flippant or careless. “Amen” gives us the right word to say in response to God’s Word, a word that cannot truly be verbalized until experiencing a faithful presentation and audience of that same Word. To say anything less or different is to forget that “God will not be mocked” (Ga 6:7).
Make “Amen” the first application of God’s word in your practical discipleship.
The people’s response to the reading of the Scriptures and to Ezra’s praises must have been an emotional experience for this scribe and priest. They shouted “Amen! Amen!” in an expression of agreement with God’s Word. While there is a plethora of opinion on what physical position is proper for prayer, “Amen” ends that discussion. Here, this Word affected their posture in three ways: they lifted up holy hands, they bowed humble heads, and they prostrated their faces upon the ground (v. 6).
Discipleship, walking after the steps of Jesus, begins by agreeing and aligning with the Word. This kind of prayerful utterance is a crucial step through the doorway to implementing your activated commitment to the truth you have just affirmed. Your agreement with the Lord’s revealed Word with an “Amen” demands your step/steps of sincere, practical obedience.
Make “Amen” the sustainer of your covenant relationship with the local church.
Be careful to not miss that this “amen” in Nehemiah 8 was a corporate response of commitment. Your “Amen” with God’s people is affirmation of a covenant to worship the Lord together as his family. You cannot honestly articulate “Amen” to God’s Word and stay away from the church and its fellowship as the covenant community.
A dramatic example of this is recorded in Deuteronomy 27:15–26, where the words “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” are repeated twelve times in twelve verses! To say “Amen” is to mean business with God in no uncertain manner before others and to others. I think our churches would do well to have a few more “Amen’s” verbalized with conviction and commitment in them.
Ultimately your prayer brings glory and honor to Jesus Christ who is every believer’s greatest Amen: “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Co. 1:20).