The Reason to Say "Amen" Confidently
The goal of this sermon series was that you would Pray About it; that prayer would become a daily resort not a last ditch refuge. And if amen is more than the last word in prayer, prayer is more likely to be daily. Amen is a Hebrew word taken into New Testament Greek and restored to use by the congregation by Martin Luther (An Exposition of the Lords Prayer, LW 42, 76, fn. 44). Amen simply means, Yes, it shall be so. Yes it shall be so is both the assumption and conclusion on which we pray. We assume before we pray than any prayer God the Son has taught us must be answered by God the Father, and we conclude after having prayed the petitions that God gave us that God cant fail to grant them.
In some sense, Luther concluded that the whole prayer hangs on our amen. He said in An Exposition of the Lords Prayer. Therefore, take note that a prayer is not good and right because of its length, devoutness, sweetness, or its plea for temporal or eternal goods. Only that prayer is acceptable which breathes a firm confidence and trust that it will be heard (LW 42, 77). Whoa! You should know by know that anytime were talking about our believing, were skating on thin ice, and were in danger of falling into the cold waters of despair.
But we dont end the Lords Prayer with a bare amen. We proceed that with the ruffles and flourishes of for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen. As the Lords Prayer begins with praise to the Father in heaven, it closes praising Him who is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Although we say our prayers standing on earth, we step into the kingdom, power, and glory of God. We no longer pray under the pressure of the moment and with the shortsightedness of momentary distress (Thielicke, Our Heavenly Father, 156), but rather in the light of a kingdom, power, and glory that is eternal.
So say that amen confidently because youre petitioning the King of ages. We say Thine is the kingdomforever and ever, but its literally into the ages. You know the expression one for the ages means one of a kind, rare, impressive. When you pray to your heavenly Father youre praying to not only one for the ages, but the King of ages. How complex our age is. How many things about this age I just dont get or understand. I need someone beyond this age, beyond all ages, and not just beyond them but above them. I need One who has more power and glory than this present age or all the ages to come.
This is the One Jesus directs us to. And He can do this because He is not only the eternal Son of the King of ages, He is the Son of Mary born into our age. You know how when you pray you sometimes lift your eyes to heaven; nothing wrong with that Jesus did it too, but you also get to find God in the depths where you are. Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and cried out to God in heaven, Why have you forsaken Me? You turn your eyes to the cross and find God nailed to it. The King of ages is in the depths out of which you call.
Say that amen with all boldness and confidence because your asking the King of ages who is right with you in the depths of this present age, and because the King of ages has the power to grant your requests. Now isnt that a silly statement? Of course, the King of ages has the power to grant whatever you ask Him because He is omnipotent, all powerful. Yes, the King of ages has all the power to do anything He wills to do.
Does the King of ages will to answer the prayers of anyone and everyone who calls to Him? Lets argue that a little. Paul says there is no God except one. All other so called gods dont really exist. Allah, Buddha, the gods of the Jews, Hindus, Unitarians, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses dont exist. They hear nothing anymore than a stone idol does. But doesnt the King of ages who is not only all powerful but all knowing, know what words come out of their lips? Of course, He does, but He doesnt will to hear them; He doesnt will to put His power or glory at their disposal. The King of ages doesnt will to put His power or glory at your disposal either.
What? You have no direct line to God; you dont have a red phone that you can pick up and God Almighty answers. If there was such a phone and you used it, when God answered youd be dust. The only phone line between heaven and earth that the King of Ages ever strung is Jesus. And doesnt the cross we see Him crucified, suffering and dying on look like an old fashioned telephone pole?
If you remember the days of pay phones, you know that bus stations, inner cities, and some rest stops had pretty disgusting phones. Youd shutter to pick them up and put them near your mouth. The only phone the King of ages ever answers is one covered in blood, sweat, and tears. This Phone only one centurion recognized on Golgotha. Everyone else walked away or only watched from a distance. You pick up that Phone. You put that Phone smeared with the holy Blood of Jesus and stained by His sinless sweat up to your mouth, and you call. He is the only phone the King of Ages ever answers, and more than that this, Jesus is the Phone He always answers.
All the power and glory of the King of ages is available through this Phone, and you can with amen certainty know He will use them on your behalf. How come? Because He didnt use them on behalf of His only beloved Son. Dont you see? If the King of ages doesnt answer your pleas with His power, glory, and kingdom it would mean Jesus went without His power, glory and kingdom for nothing. How justifiably sad and even angry family members are when their son dies in combat for nothing. This does happen through the sinfulness of men, but dont think the holy God could ever let His Son suffer, sigh, bleed and die for nothing.
He didnt come down from the cross; He didnt save Himself for nothing. After hallowing Gods name, bringing the Kingdom, and doing Gods will on earth as it is done in heaven, He died one hellish drop at a time to pay for your daily bread, your forgiveness, your being led away from temptation and your being delivered from evil. God cant fail to do these since His Son already paid for each one of them. You trust that if you pay for a gift at Sears they are going to send it to your loved one in your name. How much more certain are we to be that the good gifts of God Jesus purchased for us in His name are going to be sent to us!
Daily say your amen with confidence. Daily say with boldness, Yes, yes, all that I ask for in the Lords Prayer shall be so. Why? Because youre asking the King of ages who is right with you in the depths of this present age, because He has made available all His power to you in His Son, and because the King of Ages glories in answering prayer.
Why do we consistently and persistently paint God the Father with darker colors than we paint our own mothering or fathering? When a child comes to your with a request that is in your power to grant, dont you glory in being able to do it? Is the glory of your parenting disciplining? Of course not, that is your alien work, your foreign work, youre real work, what you relish doing is feeding, clothing, teaching, washing, providing for all the spiritual and material needs of your children.
Have you ever had a supervisor who told you he had an open door, to come to him with any and all problems, and when you did, you got your head bit off? Sure, you probably have. Again this is what sinners do to each other, but this not what the King of ages does. Consider this; Jesus is just hours away from enduring Gods wrath against sinners, drinking the cup of wrath our sins deserve, going to hell for an eternity compressed into 3 hours, and what is He thinking of? Read John 13-17. Hes thinking of you. All that He is about to suffer, to slog through, to endure changes something for you, wins something for you, merits something for you. It opens doors for you. In John 16 Jesus says, Truly, truly I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Jesus commands us to ask in His name because in His name is the only way we can call the King of ages Father. Ask, you wont get a busy signal; knock, you wont find the door locked; seek, you wont find God hiding from you. No, look there He is right out in the open for you. In the Gospel you see Him nailed to a tree suffering to save you for all eternity. Hes no longer on that tree, but He is in that Font, on that Altar, and in these Words. Clothed in Him by Baptism; bodied and blooded to Him in Holy Communion; and labeled with His name in Absolution you are to step confidently into the court of the King of ages.
And what does the King of ages see when you enter? A sinful son or daughter? No, thats what He saw on the cross. Jesus was made to be sin; Jesus was covered with the sins of the world so much so that is all the King of ages could see. But you see the other half of the equation stated in 2 Corinthians 5. God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
You step into the eternal, powerful, glories kingdom of the King of ages having Gods righteousness. The King sees you as every bit His daughter or son as Jesus is. And when you pray the same prayer that Jesus did, Our Father who arent in heaven. the Father responds, Amen, yes, it shall be so: My Name will be hallowed, My kingdom will come, and My will will be done; and this son or daughter praying to Me will be fed, forgiven, and delivered from both temptation and the evil one. And you respond, because Thine is the kingdom, power, and glory, I say, Amen! And the amen you speak here on earth echoes into eternity joining the amens the Book of Revelation records. Your amen is joined to that of the four living beings, the Church, and the whole company of heaven around Gods throne every single time you pray about it. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Midweek VI (20100324); Conclusion, Passion Reading 6