With Lent and Easter just behind us, a lot of Christians are making a determined effort to pray more. If they are going through a particular hardship, maybe they are asking for God’s help in enduring their own “time in the desert”. Our beloved catechumens, those who entered more fully into the Church through baptism or confirmation at the Easter Vigil might offer prayers of thanksgiving, or adoration for our Lord. Parents of children preparing for the sacrament of First Eucharist might just be praying for peace as they deal with family traveling from out of town for the big day, or perhaps they need help finding the perfect First Communion dress or dress shoes for their growing eight year old. While more voices reaching out to God are always a good thing, sometimes we forget that how we end our prayers is just as important as the prayers themselves.
When Jesus gave us instruction on how we are to pray, the prayer we have come to know as the Our Father, or Lord’s Prayer, ends with a resounding “Amen”. The final word in the Bible itself, found in Revelation 22:21, is Amen. In fact, the word Amen appears 72 times across 78 verses through the Old and New Testaments. So what exactly does “Amen” mean, and why is it so important to our prayers?
The word “Amen”, translated from the original Greek, literally means “so be it”. Sometimes it is interpreted to mean “I believe” or “I agree”. Each of these meanings gets us to the same point in our prayers – that is our personal faith in what we have asked for. By ending our prayers with an Amen, we are saying to the Lord, “God, I’ve asked for these things in faith, and I believe that you will answer my prayers.” And why is faith so important? Because Jesus tells us to have faith! In Mark 11:24, He says, “So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” In this same chapter, Jesus says that if we have faith we can move the mountains with our prayers. We can accomplish anything with our prayers. But we must have faith. We must believe. Adding the Great Amen at the end of our prayers puts the exclamation of faith behind what we have prayed and tells God that we do believe. Don’t just make it an afterthought, either, or something you throw in at the end just for good measure. Put your full heart and soul into telling God that you believe in the power granted to us through prayer and you will be amazed at the number of prayers that seem to be “answered”. Amen!
So as we revel in the Easter season, continue to pray. Ask for God’s help in walking through your own “desert” (troubles and hard times). Give thanks to God for all the blessings you have received (even if it is just your daily bread). Offer prayers of contrition for the things you have done wrong, the hurt you might have caused someone else. Finally, don’t forget to slow down and rest, just simply find a quiet spot to be in the Lord’s presence, adoring Him for all that He is.
To which we all say – AMEN! SO BE IT! I AGREE! I BELIEVE! AMEN!