I use a certain word almost every day—every time I pray—without even thinking. I know it’s the right word to use, but, to be honest, I don’t really know what it means or why I say it. And I think you’re probably in the same boat. The word is Amen. Know what I mean? I use that word at the end of every prayer. When someone else prays at the front of church, I know I’m supposed to join in with a hearty “Amen!” at the end. But what does Amen mean? And why do we use it?
What Does Amen Mean in the Bible
In 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV), Paul writes, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” This verse is written in the context of God’s faithfulness, especially when it comes to sending Jesus as the answer to his promises.
When God makes promises, no “maybes” are involved. He speaks with certainty and decisiveness. When it comes to saving us from sin, God doesn’t say “maybe” or “I’ll think about it.” He says yes. And because of God’s faithfulness, all of God’s people can shout out “Amen!”
There’s a sense of agreement in this Bible passage about the use of the word Amen. When we use this word, we’re saying that we agree with what’s being said. If we go back to the original Greek, the word Amen means “truly.”
So what does Amen mean? Basically, it means, “I hear what you’re saying, and I think it’s true, and I want in on it. I want to publicly declare that I agree with what’s being said.”
Amen is used in the Old Testament when the people of God, as a big group, accept that something is true and also accept the consequences of saying it. The same is true today.
Amen to that!
What does Amen mean in public? When you say Amen in church after someone has prayed, you’re saying, “I agree.” You’re saying, “God, that prayer that the person up the front just prayed? I want those things too. I think they are true and right and proper, and I want to say those things to you as well.”
So be careful when you use the word Amen. Don’t say it just because the prayer has finished. Don’t say it just because everyone else is saying it. Listen carefully to what is being said. Recognize that by saying Amen, you are praying as well. And God is listening.
Amen is better than applause
When I’m attending a big Christian event and someone finishes preaching God’s Word, I dislike it when people sometimes applaud. Have you ever come across this? I’m sure their hearts are in the right place. They want to acknowledge that what the speaker has said has been heard and that they appreciate what has been said. I get that. I think the intention is good.
But the intention and the reality are two different things. Because in reality, what people are saying by applauding is that all the credit is going to the speaker and not the God who wrote the Word that someone just preached from.
So here’s a suggestion. Instead of clapping your hands, shout out a hearty “Amen.” Do you like what the speaker has said? Do you think the message is true and want to show your agreement? Do you want everyone to know you share in the message? Then say “Amen!” That’s what the word is there for.
The next time someone asks you, “What does Amen mean?” share these insights with them!
This article originally appeared here.