It’s a word of affirmation, comfort, agreement and relief. It’s a word that completes vows, promises, blessings and all our prayers. It’s a word of release, signaling the end of far-too-lengthy worship services; and it’s the “Get ready…Get set…Go!” signal at around the dinner table. The word, of course, is “Amen.”
At its most basic, “Amen” means, “Let it be.” Thus, when we say “Amen” to end our prayers, we’re not saying, “the end” (though I’ve heard many children finish that way); we aren’t finishing our prayers at all. We’re actually beginning, for we’re confirming and confessing our trust in the God to whom we pray.
“Amen,” then, is a sort of faith signature with which we sign our prayers. “Let it be,” we’re declaring, “as God wills it.” So every time we invoke this familiar word, we’re saying “Yes” to God’s perspective about the world and about us, and we’re saying “No” to all others.
Every “Amen” becomes an argument to convince ourselves, over and over, God knows us best and knows what’s 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 tires on pavement: We have conversations with ourselves those in recovery have learned to call, “Stinking Thinking.”
We create these stories inside our heads about who we are; how we’ve 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 many people can’t be quiet, and can’t still their minds because they can’t bear what they say to themselves in quiet moments.