By Mike Riley
In the congregation that I was a part of growing up in the 60’s, we could often hear an “Amen” being audibly heard at the end of the preacher’s statements that gave emphasis to important declarations of God’s truth that was being proclaimed.
The excitement generated by these “Amens” not only inspired the preacher, but also encouraged us as hearers to listen more intently. I could hear “Amens” flowing just as spontaneously at the end of prayers being offered as well as at the end of some of the hymns we sang. One could tell that the whole congregation was alive in their vibrant praise to the God of heaven.
It’s sad to say, but we don’t hear too many “Amens” anymore in congregations of the Lord’s people. Have we ever wondered why that is? Is it because we’ve lost the excitement we once had when we heard God’s word being proclaimed, or is the world too much with us? (1 John 2:15-17). Brethren, it’s something to seriously think about.
The New Testament church was characterized by hearty “Amens” in its worship services (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:16). In fact, the term “Amen” in the Greek appears some 229 times in the New Testament. Jesus used it often to give emphasis to important declarations of truth (i.e., “verily, verily” – KJV). The apostles stated it at the end of prayers or statements of grave importance. Yes, even angelic beings cried out “Amen” when praise was given to God (Revelation 5:11-14; Revelation 7:11-12).
According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, the term “Amen” means, “at the beginning of a discourse — surely, truly, of a truth” or “at the end — so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled.” The audible stating of “Amen” allows the whole congregation to express approval to a prayer or a sermon. Its expression permits the entire church to be active participants in the worship service.
In the Old Testament, God’s people were commanded to say “Amen” as their response to the reading of God’s word (Deuteronomy 27:15-26). When David spoke God’s will to Israel, “all the people said, ‘Amen!’ and praised the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:36). When Ezra read from God’s book “all the people stood up” (Nehemiah 8:5), “Then all the people answered ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6).
Thus, it is indeed needful for the church in the 21st century to show the same enthusiasm in worship as God’s people did in ancient days. The cold, heartless, and ritualistic worship that we see in many congregations of the Lord’s people today, needs to be replaced with some heartfelt“Amens” at important points in heartfelt sermons and at the conclusion of heartfelt prayers.
Brethren, along with sincere expressions of joy and excitement in our worship, engaging in heartfelt “Amens” will go a long way in edifying the church as we worship the only true and living God (Psalm 63:1-3; Hebrews 13:15).