Closing Prayer: H.C. Lord’s Day 52

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 52

Q 127: What does the sixth petition mean? 
A 127: “And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” means:
By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment.
And our sworn enemies—the devil, the world, and our own flesh—never stop attacking us.
And so, Lord, uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle, but may firmly resist our enemies until we finally win the complete victory.
Q 128: What does your conclusion to this prayer mean?
A 128: “For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever” means:
We have made all these petitions of you because, as our all-powerful king, you are both willing and able to give us all that is good; and because your holy name, and not we ourselves, should receive all the praise, forever.
Q 129: What does that little word “Amen” express?
A 129: “Amen” means: This shall truly and surely be!
It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer than that I really desire what I pray for.
The closing of both the Lord’s Prayer and the teaching of the Lord’s prayer represent three things, a recognition of God’s presence in our daily walk, a reiteration of God’s sovereignty, and a trust in God’s faithfulness.
First comes the phrase “save us from the time of trial,” an update from the traditional “lead us not into temptation.”  The original texts of Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s prayer were never meant to give a false indication that God is the one who either prompts or creates temptation.  God’s presence in the midst of our trials and temptations, however, is a gaurantee in Scripture.  He promises to never leave us or forsake us; He walks every step of our lives with us, sustaining us even when He doesn’t approve of our actions or the things we get ourselves into.  Even when we are clearly in over our heads, there is nothing that God cannot save us from.
When we find ourselves in the midst of these times, Jesus reminds us of two things.  First, that we are indeed not alone.  We are not caught in temptation because God has left us, but rather because we are walking away from Him.  Even then, however, when we are faithless, He is faithful.  And second, He reminds us that we can always call to Him when we are lost.  There is nothing that we can get ourselves into that discounts us from turning back to God and God receiving us with His full love and open arms.
Second in the closing phrases of the Lord’s prayer is a sort of reprise and a reminder of the whole purpose and goal of prayer in the first place.  Prayer is an act of worship, and through it, we see a transformation in us that prompts us toward desiring and enacting God’s will and purposes in the world.
This is also a declaration of the state of our hearts.  Saying, “The Kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,” means that, for us, those things belong to God and as such they are not ours to control.  Rather, we are placing our trust once again in Him and recognizing Him for who He is: God.  
Finally, the prayer is ended by the word “amen.”  This word is not just a nice Christian word for “prayer done.”  It carries with a very real and very specific meaning: “this is sure to be!”  When Jesus is talking to His disciples about things that are sure to be, He says in the Greek “amen, amen,” or “truly, truly…”  The emphasis here points to the certainty of God’s actions in our lives and in the world.
Have you ever prayed and felt like your prayers were just bouncing off the ceiling?  Have you ever felt alone and not sure if what you were praying would even come to be?  The word “amen,” is a statement of trust.  We say this because we believe, deep in our core, that God hears and answers prayer.  In one of the closing statements of his book, Kevin DeYoung says this, “God is so gracious that He is more willing to hear our requests than we are sure that we actually want what we pray for.”  God’s desire that we come to Him, even in the midst of our doubts, is so great that we are assured that no matter the state that we are in, God will always here and answer. 
DeYoung finishes by saying this, “How Liberating!  Go ahead and pray to God better than you feel and you may just find that in His mercy you end up better than you deserve.”  How wonderful and true.  God is able and willing to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine, even at our best.  So the invitation of God is to come… no matter where you are or what is going on… go to Him!

Amen: H.C. Question129

What does that little word “Amen” express? 
Isaiah 65:24 – Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
2 Corinthians 1:20 – For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
2 Timothy 2:13 – if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Day 58: Deuteronomy 24-27; Keep the Whole Commandment! "Amen!"

Again we encounter a great deal of “miscellaneous laws” that deal with holy living for Israel.  However, these are followed by a very important section of the reading of these laws as they draw to a close.  Moses says to the people from Mount Ebal, “Keep the whole commandment I am giving you today.”  The Hebrew word present here represents the deepest meaning of totality.  Moses is impressing on the people of Israel the necessity of the whole commandment being kept.  He isn’t saying that they can pick and choose, or accept what they like and reject what doesn’t suit them.  I think this is a very important point that is sometimes lost on us as Christians in America, the “western church.”  We tend to avoid a lot of the Scripture that we don’t necessarily like.  These last 2 or 3 books of the Bible is an example of that.  We set them aside, struggle through them, and even sometimes deny their validity all together because we don’t want to read them, or don’t like to hear them.  Yet they are there for a reason, and as the Word of God, they are alive and active in our hearts through the revelation and work of the Holy Spirit.  I hope that you have found these books a little more palatable this time around.  Honestly, as we come to the end of Deuteronomy, I can say that this is one of two times I have honestly read the whole of these books.  I have been struck very deeply by the incredible depth and breadth of information and meaning that are contained here, and how these things really set the stage for the rest of God’s story.

The other interesting thing that I found in this passage was the continual repetition of the word “Amen.”  This word comes from the Hebrew word “אָמֵֽן” which is literally pronounced “amen.”  The meaning is deep and the impact of the word is equally as deep.  When we say “Amen” at the end of a prayer, sermon, or reading of the Word of God, we aren’t simply sticking a Christian word there as a way of some sort of Christian punctuation, we are echoing the words of the Hebrew people saying “we believe it!” or “we believe it will take place.”  It also means: verily, truly, so be it.  It is a testament, a confession that we are not simply just saying these things, but that they matter and we know that God will act.  At the end of our worship services, Pastor Scott gives a benediction or blessing.  Usually he says, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you… Amen.”  Traditionally, the congregation would either say “amen” with him, or respond by saying “amen.”  It is a way for us to say, “Yes!  We truly believe that the grace of Jesus Christ is with us!”    The same goes for us ending a prayer with the word “amen.”  Conversely, as the people are saying the word “amen” here in this passage, they are acknowledging that if they do the things that they are told not to do, the curse of God will be on them.  For them, they are saying “truly God will make this happen.” A startling acknowledgement?  Perhaps for us.  But from a people so shaped by the presence of God in their everyday life, it seems to be the only logical response.

The next time you say “amen,” keep in mind the confession you are making by using this abundantly common Christian word.

May the Word of God dwell in you richly, and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the fellowship and power of the Holy Spirit be with you, now and always.  Amen!  Amen!