Monday, August 9, 2010

"Amen" - My Article in the Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 190

“Teach Us to Pray: Amen”

By Rev. Greg Smith

For the past several weeks, we’ve been looking at the Lord’s Prayer, not just as a thing to be recited verbatim but as a model or outline for our own personal prayers. Jesus taught us to begin our prayers with praise—“Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Only after we’ve sought God’s face through worship should we move on in prayer. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is the next phrase of the prayer. Once we’ve sought a relationship with God, we should seek God’s will. Once you’ve done that you can pray for your needs, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Confessing our sins and releasing those who have sinned against us is integral to healthy spirituality, so Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Jesus realized that his disciples were about to go into a dangerous world, so He taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” If we take each of these phrases and expand them with our own words, taking time with the Lord rather than rushing through this thirty-second prayer, then we will have a good model for how to approach God.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever” ends the Lord ’s Prayer in praise, the same way the prayer begins. When you begin and end your prayer in praise, then you bookend your time with God by focusing on Him, rather than on yourself. You recognize that the kingdom and power and glory are His, and not your own. You see your life in the proper perspective, recognizing who you are in light of who God is.

Perhaps the most difficult word in the Lord’s Prayer is also the most neglected. “Amen” is a word of resignation to God’s will. The English word, which means “so be it” comes to us originally from Hebrew, which passed through Greek and Latin before it came to us. The root of this word means “to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe.” We don’t pray “so be it” at the end of our prayer as a way of saying, “May it be as I have said.” Rather we pray “so be it” as a way of asking God, “May it be according to Your will.” This is perhaps the hardest word to pray, because we tend to want our will to be done, rather than simply trusting in God to bring His will about.

The next time you pray “amen,” I invite you to linger on that word. It has become almost a meaningless word in our prayers these days, akin to saying, “I’m done now,” or “I’m hanging up the phone now, God.” But in reality it is a word of great power, when you let it bring you to a place of accepting God’s will. Amen is a word of submission and trust, and we all need more of that in our prayers.

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