A pastor had a conversation concerning Sunday morning worship with some church members.
Each of them shared his or her favorite part of the service. One person said it was the music. Somebody else said it was the liturgy. Another person said it was the prelude ... wait, the prelude?
When asked what made the prelude so meaningful, that person said his whole week is always so full, and yet when he enters the Sanctuary and the prelude begins, it is the only time all week when he could just sit back, be quiet and experience the presence of the Lord.
Wow! Most of us are simply too busy to stop to relax and be still before the Lord for even a few moments.
Many of us feel as if we need to be active every minute of the day. We confuse busyness with being productive. We confuse busyness with being successful. We confuse busyness with being efficient. And we confuse busyness with being relevant.
Jesus too, was busy with life. Yet, in the midst of this busyness, he found time — rather he made time — to find a solitary place to pray. He intentionally created a time of stillness, a time to be alone with the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures state this command to all believers: "Be still and know that I am God." Be still … it’s a command.
There is another element to prayer, which is that prayer leads to action. It’s found in that one little word that we find at the end of a prayer: Amen. Most of the time we treat the word sort of like a punctuation mark. We say our prayers, then say amen as though it means “OK the prayer is over.”
And yet, amen means a whole lot more than that, and the more we look at this little word, the more we see how important it really is.
As a matter of fact, amen is the last word in the Bible. It means “surely, truly, firmly, so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled.” When we say it at the end of our prayers, amen means something that is much like a director who’s shooting a movie saying, 'Action!'
Sadly, many treat the word as if it's the end or as if we are disconnecting from God; So long God … until next time!
In reality, amen is a proclamation of agreement. It isn't the end. Rather, our amen is an affirmation leading us to do something. When we say amen, it should be a signal that calls us to action.
Jesus went off to a solitary place for prayer. After his time in prayer, Jesus got up and was ready for action. Jesus told his disciples in the book of Mark, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came to do." It was time to do something. It was time for action. When we say amen at the end of our prayer, the director of the universe calls us to action.
Do you pray for the sick? Do you pray for the poor and then hope God does something about the sick and the poor?
Or do you pray for them and then ask God to use you to be an instrument to the sick and the poor?
In the midst of our busyness, we need to slow down, and we need to go to that solitary place to be with our God. We can be in prayer together and be in relationship together, and then we need to let our amen prepare us for action.
And all God's people said, "Amen!"
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.