Why do we say “Amen” at the end of prayers?

Recently, a note came to me from someone in our church with an interesting question. It said this:

Why is it that sometimes your prayers do not end with “Amen”? Is there a biblical reason why we do or do not say amen after prayers?

I responded personally, but I also felt my answer might benefit others, so here it is in blog form.

The Meaning of “Amen”

First, the word Amen is a Hebrew word that comes from the Hebrew root AMN which means faith/faithfulness. Strangely enough, this same root word shows up in a variety of other Hebrew words including words for the firm columns supporting a roof. In other words, the root communicates security, stability, and strength, and that’s why the Hebrews used it to mean “faithfulness.” The irony is that we modern Christians tend to view faith as a tenuous and shaky thing while ancient Hebrews saw faith as the stability that holds someone’s life up!

Biblical Uses of “Amen”

Anyway, Amen comes from that root word for stability and means something like “affirmative” or “so be it” or “I agree” or “let it be so.” Throughout the Bible, you will see one person verbalize a prayer to God or a praise about God and others will respond by saying, “Amen.” Eventually, in the New Testament writings, when Peter or Paul would write out a praise to God, they would end the statement of praise by offering their own “Amen” since in the letter form, there was no one else to say it! Therefore, it became customary for “Amen” to show up at the end of prayers and praises even if the Amen is offered by the same person who is speaking the prayer.

In this sense, Amen has become sort of a last-minute word to tell God we are serious about our request. However, nowhere in the Bible is it required of us to use it in our prayers. As a matter of fact, Jesus never ends a prayer with “Amen” and the word doesn’t show up in the prayer He taught us. Look up Matthew 6:9-13, and you’ll see what I mean. Now, at some point after the first disciples had all passed away, a Bible tradition rose up that was uncomfortable with the ending of the Lord’s Prayer and actually added the line “for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.” The King James Version follows that textual tradition, but it is well-established that the phrase didn’t exist in the earliest copies of Matthew’s gospel. Jesus never used “Amen” when talking to his Father or when teaching us to talk with Him.

My Own Custom

As a result, when I pray privately, I have a conversation with God, and just like my conversations with anyone else, I don’t end with Amen.

However, when I pray with others, I adopt the custom of ending my prayer with Amen whenever I want to signify that the time of prayer is done. That’s why I often do not say Amen in prayers during our time of worship music or during our time of reflection. It is because I don’t want people to think the time for praying is over. It’s because I want us all to stay in an attitude of prayer.

If you have a few minutes to do some extra study, go to bible.com, youversion.com, or biblegateway.com and search for the word Amen. You’ll be fascinated to see when people use it in the Bible.

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5 thoughts on “Why do we say “Amen” at the end of prayers?

  1. Your point about not ending a prayer with “amen” was a great point. Considering as you pointed out, we are to be in a constant state of prayer.

    Never really paid attention to the fact you never say Amen after you pray at church, but love the point you made especially regarding being in a constant state of prayer during services. Because prayer isn’t just about when we tell God stuff but when we hear from him…. Great Post.

  2. That was a greate reason of you not saying amen at the end of your prayers. But remember also that amen is very important to say, that is you are agreening with what you say to God in your prayers and also i didn’t see it keepping you away in a state of prayer if you are truely a faithful person to prayer as the bible said pray in season and without season.

    1. I have never heard of that opinion before, but I would say that it doesn’t make sense in light of the Hebrew language. AMN in Hebrew is the common word for “faith” and is never used to refer to God or any other divine being. It sometimes is used to refer to a column or support beam in a building. Since the Hebrews lived for a time in Egypt, there is a possibility of a distant ancient connection between the first word of the Egyptian god Amon/Amen/Amun Ra and the Hebrew word AMN, but to my knowledge there are very few examples of linguistic transfer between ancient Egyptian and ancient Hebrew, and even if this is an example, no Hebrew from Moses’ day onward seems to remember the connection. You’d never turn the specific name of a deity into a common word for a support beam if you remembered where it came from and cared about its original meaning.

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