I’m sure you’re bordered about the feelings you get when it seems the level of answers you command on prayers is proportional to the loudness of the "amen" you utter. I once heard someone admits, "thank God preachers are not God, otherwise you’re not entitled to answered prayer unless you scream A-M-E-N!"
What is the big deal about shouting amen on top of your voice that many preachers demand from their audience? Could it be an effect of a psychological cause or spirituality or a combination of both? It’s a delight to analyze the fine line between psychology and spirituality at times. Before attempting to analyze those hypothesis, let’s make a little sense of the word, "amen."
In simple terms, "amen" means I agree, so be it! It is an appropriation of an open gift that you agree to collect. In other words, it’s a personal acceptance or signature you append to an offer. It’s a word said at the end of a prayer to affirm its content. Prior to the 12th Century the word had evolved from Latin, Greek and Hebrew and it means "truly" or "confirm". "Amen" in English can either be a noun or an interjection, depending on the manner of expression.
Have you noticed, that the manner in which people express "amen" depends on the importance they attribute to the communicated statement of prayer. For instance, simple prayer for grace, righteousness, joy and the likes would attract normal mention of "amen." On the other hand, prayer statement that reflects solution to a critical problem or a countering of opposing force, attract interjectory outburst of "A-M-E-E-E-N!!!" What could be responsible the differentials of perception?
In cultures where people are accustomed to scarcity of developmental amenities, there is aggression. Due to a deprived mentality accumulated over time, blessing must be grabbed as sharp as possible or else…! By implication, the feedback expected of an audience by a preacher who is aware of their culture is nothing short of a thunderous "amen!" So, in the absence of the expected feedback, the preacher cannot but demand a better "A-M-E-E-E-N!!!"
Any Biblical Backing?
John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, but we know Elijah’s ministry terminated at the instance of a threat by a lady Jezebel. So also, John’s ministry and life abruptly ended at the demand of a lady Herodias. Hence Jesus said to whoever cares to hear – in order not to go the way of Elijah and John; from the days of John the Baptist, the system of God permits emotional intensity and those who so engage become victorious forcefully (Matthew 11: 11-15). Shouting "amen" with passion is an expression of emotional intensity (violence) recommended by Jesus and if you decide to embrace that attitude, I imagine God Himself responding "amen" to you.
Interestingly, preachers from aggressive cultures tend to comport themselves in addressing an elite or advanced audience. Now that’s a sort of psychology of communication!
Where Does Spirituality Comes In?
Have you been in front of an audience and needed to confirm that they were still with you? You’d like call out "heloo!" and feel cool if the expected popular response, "hi!" is hollered back at you. On the other hand, a week response from the audience makes you feel uncomfortable. In like manner, it’s not tantamount to spirituality when a preacher keeps pronouncing prayers that requires a preemptive feedback and goes further reiterating his/her demand for a louder "amen!"
In any case, the One who answers prayers never complains about the manners of saying "amen" in the Bible.
"…And the people shall say Amen and Amen!"
Truly there exist only a razor edge between emotional intensity and spoirituality. Call it zealousness or fervency, it’s right. However, it will only be genuine if it comes out of conviction or inspirational spontaneity. It would be fake and lifeless if its a mere mechanical push meant to feed the preacher’s emotion.
Whenever you’re stirred in the spirit to say a powerful amen, let it out! "Quench not the Spirit!" Nevertheless, don’t constitute an environmental nuisance, especially in a regulated society.
So, why would a preacher want you to say a better "amen"? They want to shake apathy off you and get you interested in the communication. Consequently, that enables you make maximum appropriation of the prayers being said. Surprisingly though, for some of them, it’s just a habit!
One last question: How would you express the last word in the Bible? "Amen!" It depends on how inspired you are at the moment. And don’t you be perturbed by the complain of anyone in whom lies not the power to answer prayers!
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