“Amen” is an English transliteration of a Greek transliteration of a Hebrew word. In Greek it looks like this: ἀμήν and in Hebrew it looks like this: אָמֵן. Yes, it is a very old word! The basic three letters of “amen” — amn — also form the same word in other Semitic languages, such as Syriac and Aramaic. “Amen” essentially means “true” or “faithful.”
In terms of a worship service, “amen” is word of assent and agreement. You could think of it as, “Agreed!” or even, “Yup!”
In the Old Testament, we find “amen” used as a word of agreement when the Law is read to the Israelites. For instance:
Deuteronomy 27:16–18 (ESV)
16 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
17 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
18 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
The New Testament church had the practice of the people responding to prayers with “amen” as a way of associating themselves with and agreeing with the prayer or praise that was spoken. (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:16)
“Amen” can, of course, slip into simply meaning, “the end of the prayer.” But it doesn’t have to. When someone is leading a prayer, you know that it is going to end with “amen.” Listen carefully to what is being said. Involve yourself with the prayer, praise or thanksgiving. Let your soul begin to vibrate with the thoughts expressed. Then, when the prayer is finished, you can say, “amen,” in an entirely different way. Instead of “amen” being “done praying,” “amen” becomes “we have prayed together, I am in agreement with this prayer and I am part of this community of love in Jesus Christ.”
Don’t let “amen” be a flat, boring word. It is a full, rich, meaningful, thoughtful word used to join in prayer and share in community.
“Amen” to that!