"Always Say Amen Firmly"

If there’s one thing I appreciate about Martin Luther (besides his sense of humor), it’s how practical he is. Few realize that his motivation for his famous Ninety-Five Theses, which could easily be called the spark of the Protestant Reformation, was not only a theological one but also a practical one. He was concerned about how the current selling of indulgences was harming lay Christians.

A delightful example of his practicality is in a little piece of his called “A Simple Way to Pray.” It is a short explanation of how Luther prays, written for the benefit of his barber, who apparently asked for his advice. Prayer is important to Luther, and he teaches barber Peter how to use Scripture (The Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments) to shape his prayers. (If you’re interested in reading the entire thing, you can find it here.)

Praying Scripture offers Luther a sense of surety. He is simply praying back what God has already said. After walking through each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, he concludes with this comment:

Finally, mark this, that you must always speak the Amen firmly. Never doubt that God in his mercy will surely hear you and say “yes” to your prayers. Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, all devout Christians, are standing there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition which God cannot disdain. Do not leave your prayer without having said or thought, “Very well, God has heard my prayer; this I know as a certainty and a truth.” That is what Amen means.

This is the beauty of praying the words God has entrusted to us in Scripture—although we may not know how God will fulfill them, we know that they align with who He is and what He is about in the world. This sort of prayer, which clearly echoes the heart of God, gives us boldness and surety. And when we finish, our Amen can be a resounding one.