It is a word of affirmation, comfort, agreement, and relief. It is a word that completes vows, promises, blessings, and all of our prayers. It is a word of release – signaling the end of far too lengthy worship services – and it is the “Get ready…Get set…Go!” when we have gathered around the dinner table to eat. The word, of course, is “Amen.”
At its most basic definition “Amen” means, “Let it be.” Thus, when we say “Amen” at the conclusion of our prayers, we are not saying, “the end” (though I’ve heard many children finish that way); we aren’t finishing our prayers at all. We are actually beginning, for we are confirming and confessing our trust in the God to whom we have just prayed.
“Amen,” then, is a sort of faith signature that we sign to our prayers. “Let it be,” we are declaring, “as God wills it.” So, every time we invoke this familiar word, we are saying “Yes” to God’s perspective about the world and about us, and we are saying “No” to all other perspectives.
Every “Amen” becomes an argument to convince ourselves, over and over again, that God knows us best and knows what is best for us. And speaking of “God knows,” God knows we tend to argue with ourselves, don’t we? Late in the day, quietly in the dark; early in the morning before we’ve had our coffee or medication; driving alone with only the hum of the tires on the pavement: We have these conversations with ourselves that those in recovery have learned to call, “Stinking Thinking.”
We create these stories inside our heads about who we are; how we have failed; how ashamed we should be of ourselves; how unworthy we are; how utterly useless our lifework has been; how we are a lousy father, mother, parent, business owner or whatever. I’m convinced that many people can’t be quiet, and they can’t still their minds because they can’t bear what they say to themselves in the quiet moments.