“Why is it important that we say amen aloud at the end of prayers and talks?” Ensign, Jan. 1976, 67–68
Robert F. Clyde, president of Heber Utah East Stake The use of the word amen originated thousands of years ago. In fact, whenever the Church has been upon the earth, amen has appropriately closed both prayers and sermons.
In the Old Testament, David ended the 106th Psalm with the words: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen.” (Ps. 106:48.)
Speaking through Moses regarding the use of images in worship, the Lord said: “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.” (Deut. 27:15.)
In the meridian of time the Savior closed the Lord’s Prayer with Amen, and Paul taught it to the Corinthians. (1 Cor. 14:16.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve has said: “There are about a score of instances in which the term is found in the Bible, nearly twice that many in the Book of Mormon, and nearly every revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants is so closed.” (Mormon Doctrine, Bookcraft, 1966, p. 32.)
The presiding Brethren of today have counseled as follows: “A noticeable decline in voicing the word amen at the close of prayers and talks is apparent among congregations of the Church. Amen should be voiced audibly by all members to indicate their agreement and approval of what has been said. A re-emphasis on joining in the amen is needed in all meetings and gatherings throughout the Church.” (Priesthood Bulletin, October 1973, p. 4.)
With all the instruction and counsel to conclude prayers and sermons with an amen, we need to rediscover the reasons behind the practice. Many people feel that when they are saying amen they are merely agreeing or expressing the term “so be it,” but actually it means a great deal more than that.
Basically, the Saints of God are a covenant-making people. We participate in a covenant at baptism, at the partaking of the sacrament, in the reception of the priesthood, in obtaining the endowment, and in the eternal marriage sealing. The congregational expression of the word amen is a form of covenant making in which we not only audibly express our agreement with what has been said, but promise to abide by the principles taught.
If we listen to a sermon or a prayer with the realization that there rests upon us some duty to confirm our own compliance by a vocal amen, we will accomplish several things:
First, we will concentrate more on what is being said, and as we hear references to principles previously understood and covenants made, there will be a greater rededication on our part. The things we pledged at the baptismal font, in interviews with priesthood leaders, and in the temple will be renewed in our hearts, and our efforts to be righteous will increase.
Second, it will often enable us to give often our pledge of obedience, for it was God who said, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam. 15:22.)
Third, our combined amens will foster unity and closeness within the congregation and spirituality will increase among our people.
To say amen is to follow the counsel of our inspired leaders for reasons that seem sufficient to God and therefore compelling to us. Such a course has always and will ever increase our own happiness.