How to End Your Prayer
Joe McKeeverJoe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website -- joemckeever.com -- and which are reprinted by online publications everywhere. His articles appear in a number of textbooks and other collections. Retired from "official" ministry since the summer of 2009, Joe stays busy drawing a daily cartoon for Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net), as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, writing for Baptist MenOnline for the North American Mission Board, and preaching/drawing/etc for conventions and churches across America. Over a 42 year period, McKeever pastored 6 churches (the last three were the First Baptist Churches of Columbus, MS; Charlotte, NC; and Kenner, LA). Followed by 5 years as Director of Missions for the 135 SBC churches of metro New Orleans, during which hurricane katrina devastated the city and destroyed many churches. Joe is married to Margaret, the father of three adults, and the proud grandfather of eight terrific young people. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College (History, 1962), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters in Church History, 1967, and Doctorate of Ministry in Evangelism, 1973). Joe's father was a coal miner who married a farmer's daughter. Carl and Lois McKeever, both of whom lived past 95 years of age, produced 6 children, with Joe and Ronnie being ministers. Joe grew up near Nauvoo, Alabama, and attended high school at Double Springs. Joe's life verse is Job 4:4, "Your words have stood men on their feet."
- 2017 May 17
“Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.”
The end to the Lord’s prayer reminds us to commit everything to Him. His will has supremacy and ultimately is the only thing that matters.
I was preaching a series of meetings in a South Carolina church. On Sunday morning at the time for the offering, an older gentleman stepped up to the pulpit and led the prayer. It was a fine prayer and was offered in faith. But then, I noticed something.
He went on and on, even though he had finished his prayer. He kept talking. And then it hit me. The man could not remember how to end the prayer. He was circling the airport but could not recall how to get this thing on the ground.
Finally, he ended his prayer the same way you and I have concluded many a visit: “Thank you. I enjoyed it very much. Good-bye.”
Nothing in Scripture instructs us on how to conclude a prayer. It doesn’t even say we have to.
When I was a kid walking up the West Virginia mountain to school, often I’d be praying softly. And I recall not wanting to say a final “amen” to close out the prayer. The image of leaving the phone off the hook all day long so I could talk to the Lord any time I pleased came to mind. Even though we had no phone and I’d probably never had the first conversation on one.
“Pray without ceasing,” Paul called it in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
We can talk to the Lord all day long, and should. Snippets of prayers here and there, and longer visits as we are able. I like to drop to my knees in the bedroom, even if just for 30 seconds. Lying in bed in the middle of the night, unable to sleep and talking to the Lord, sometimes I raise my hand toward the ceiling, as though reaching out to the Father.
Pray however you do, as often as you can, as real as you can make it. Conclude your prayer any way you wish. Or don’t.
Even in the concluding scene of “Blue Bloods,” our favorite cop show, as the Reagan family sits around the table for a meal together, and someone says “the blessing,” they always end with “amen.”
“Amen” is the signal that this prayer is over.
That’s how we do it in church and it’s how we do it individually.
We might as well say, “Play ball!”
Anything wrong with concluding a prayer with “amen”? Surely not, although it’s unnecessary.
Originally, “amen” had the force of the “truly” which modern Bible translations give it. So, when Jesus said, “Verily, verily I say unto you,” these days we read “Truly, truly I say unto you.” The word in the Greek is “amen.” Literally.
Notice how the Lord uses the word. He spoke “amen” at the beginning of His words, not at the conclusion the way we do. He doubled it. And He said it about His own words, not the words of someone else (referring to the way we might ‘amen’ someone for saying something profound).
We can’t improve on the little formula we received in the Lord’s Prayer. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
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