JEHOVAH values our worship. He is “paying attention and listening” to his servants, and no act of praise, no matter how small, escapes his notice. (Mal. 3:16) For example, consider a word we likely have said countless times. The word is “amen.” Does Jehovah value even that simple expression? Yes, he does! To learn why, let us examine what that word means and how it is used in the Bible.
“ALL THE PEOPLE WILL SAY, ‘AMEN!’”
The English word “amen” means “so be it,” or “surely.” It comes from a Hebrew root word meaning “be faithful,” “be trustworthy.” It was sometimes used in a legal setting. After a person took an oath, he would say “amen” to verify that what he had said was accurate and that he bound himself to the consequences of what was stated. (Num. 5:22) When he went on record in such a manner, he had added incentive to keep his word.—Neh. 5:13.
A dramatic example of the use of “amen” is recorded in Deuteronomy chapter 27. After the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they were to gather between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim to hear the Law recited. They were there not only to listen but also to declare that they had accepted the Law. They did this by replying “Amen!” when the results for disobedience were read. (Deut. 27:15-26) Imagine the sound of many thousands of men, women, and children loudly giving their response! (Josh. 8:30-35) They surely never forgot the words they spoke that day. And those Israelites kept their word, for the record states: “Israel continued to serve Jehovah all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had known all of Jehovah’s deeds in behalf of Israel.”—Josh. 24:31.
Jesus also used “amen” to affirm the truthfulness of what was said, but he did so in a unique way. Rather than use it to reply to a statement, he used “amen” (translated into English as “truly”) to introduce pronouncements of truth. At times, he repeated the word, saying “amen amen.” (Matt. 5:18; John 1:51) He thus assured his listeners that his words were the absolute truth. Jesus could speak with such certainty because he was the one authorized to make all of God’s promises come true.—2 Cor. 1:20; Rev. 3:14.
“THE PEOPLE SAID, ‘AMEN!’ AND THEY PRAISED JEHOVAH”
The Israelites also used “amen” when offering praise and prayers to Jehovah. (Neh. 8:6; Ps. 41:13) By saying the word after a prayer, those listening showed that they adopted the prayer as their own. All present were thus able to participate, which enhanced the spiritual occasion. That is what happened when King David brought the Ark of Jehovah to Jerusalem. During the celebration that followed, he delivered the stirring prayer in the form of a song recorded at 1 Chronicles 16:8-36. Those attending were so moved by his words that “all the people said, ‘Amen!’ and they praised Jehovah.” Yes, their unified response added to the joy of that day.
First-century Christians likewise used “amen” when extolling Jehovah. Bible writers often included it in their letters. (Rom. 1:25; 16:27; 1 Pet. 4:11) The book of Revelation even depicts spirit creatures in heaven glorifying Jehovah by saying: “Amen! Praise Jah!” (Rev. 19:1, 4) Early Christians customarily said “amen” after prayers offered at their meetings. (1 Cor. 14:16) However, it was not a word they were simply to repeat by rote.
WHY YOUR “AMEN” MATTERS
After reviewing its background and history, we can see why “amen” is such a meaningful way to conclude a prayer. When we say it at the end of our own prayer, we show that we really mean what we said. And when we are moved to respond “amen,” even silently, to a public prayer, we show our support for the sentiments expressed. Consider why else our “amen” matters.
We are active and alert in our worship. We worship Jehovah during prayer not only by what we say but also by how we behave. Our desire to offer a valid “amen” may help us to maintain a proper attitude and keep our mind on the prayer.
We are united as worshippers. Public prayer focuses our attention on what the rest of the congregation is hearing. (Acts 1:14; 12:5) When we are moved to respond in unison with our brothers and sisters, we are further united. Whether we say it out loud or in our heart, our “amen” gives Jehovah added reason to act in harmony with our collective request.
We praise Jehovah. Jehovah notices our small acts of worship. (Luke 21:2, 3) He sees what our motive is and what is in our heart. Even when we must listen in by telephone to a meeting, we can be sure our humble “amen” does not go unnoticed by Jehovah. It adds to the collective praise offered to him.
Our “amen” may seem of little value, but it is by no means insignificant. “Through the use of this one word,” states one Bible encyclopedia, God’s servants can express “the confidence, strong approval, and earnest hope that is in their hearts.” May every “amen” we utter be pleasing to Jehovah.—Ps. 19:14.
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION