8 Ways to Start With Amen
- Beth Guckenberger Back2Back Ministries
- 2017 2 May
There are a hundred ways to spend today. I could invest in my family, my work, my friends, or myself. I could be ambitious and make a plan or do a project; or just survive with a body that’s too tired and responsibilities that are too much. How do I know what to do? How do I still myself enough to listen? What does a prayer for today even start like?
I’ve long been in the habit of inverting my prayers. I start with “amen” which means, “so be it” and I set my agenda down right from the start. He can move how he wants in any given story and I am committing from the beginning I won’t get in His way or question. Then I list and talk and ask for all that I normally pray about, “Would you please… Thank you for… Forgive me now…” Afterwards, I finish with some hands-together-form-of-begging, “Oh, dear Jesus…”
I’ve done that for a while now and it’s resulted in tremendous benefits: intimacy with God and others, the reward of abundant grace and peace, reconciled relationships, and less overall human drama.
So I whisper, Amen. You sell the house. Dear Jesus.
Amen. You move her heart. Dear Jesus.
Amen. You heal that body. You open the door. You provide. Dear Jesus.
And in one syllable this word reorients, calibrating me with a God whose covenant he will never break. So be it. I can’t fix anyone, I gain nothing from wringing my hands. By inverting my prayers and saying amen, from the beginning I acknowledge his sovereignty and my surrender.
The challenge is steep. I wrestle daily to not begin my prayers with pleading or demands. It takes intentionality to act like His child. When I do it, my day can simultaneously look honest, be relational, and remain deeply spiritual. These best of days, I’ve reminded myself of the ways I can start with amen.
1. Recognize people matter. I was convicted about all the previous times I had put a task or an accomplishment above a relationship. If I am too busy for people, what exactly am I doing?
a. Take time to make a call to someone you haven’t initiated with in a season, but imagine could use encouragement. Surprise them with simply asking how they are doing.
2. See vulnerability as maturity. It is habit to answer people who ask how you are with a response that makes them feel good. It takes more than I want to offer up to someone, “This hurts.” Or “I am struggling.” But the days I am real, I find it opens the door to a real exchange and gives someone the chance to offer me his or her strength or gifts.
a. Today when someone asks, “How are you?” give them a sincere answer. Take a beat before responding, “Fine,” to say something honest.
3. Crave his presence. Living amen is a sacred rhythm. It is surrender to sovereignty in all circumstances. The result is a rapport with the living God so intense it permeates everything. It affects how I talk to my husband, interact with neighbors, spend money, make plans, and raise my kids. It influences how affected I am by other people’s thoughts of me or someone else’s crisis.
a. Sit for at least a moment in silence. Turn the radio off in the car, or the ringer off on your phone, and enjoy his presence. Give him what’s weighing on you and imagine him literally lifting it off your shoulders, or out of your hands.
4. Believe God, rather than just believing in him. I don’t know the exact moment when it happened, this crossing over from believing in God to believing God, although I now know I don’t want to go back. I have finally settled myself at his feet. Some days I feel anticipation, so I stand there on tiptoes. Some days I feel exhausted, so I am facedown, without words. On days with questions, my hand is raised. On days of celebration, I dance spiritually like I wish I could physically.
a. Go somewhere you can be alone and position your body physically to mirror how you feel today spiritually. Tiptoes? Facedown? Are you shaking a fist? Dancing with abandon? Tell him the truth, it’s where freedom begins.
5. Confess liberally. When I prayed about my load and whether he or I put it there, when I confessed how good it felt at times to carry something heavy, or how good it felt to take matters into my own hands, something supernatural happened. My confession loosened the soil. He pulled out the lie root from the metaphorical garden of my heart and planted the truths belonging there instead.
a. Write down your confessions just from today. Include thoughts you’ve had, words you’ve said or actions you’ve taken. Confess liberally, knowing his grace is more than enough. Afterwards read 1 John 1:9.
6. Say yes more. If amen had an opposite, it would be no. As I begin to fall apart and find I am losing heart, I can always track the start of the downward spiral to a no. (No, that’s not fair. No, I can do it myself. No, I won’t admit that. No, no, no, no.) Suddenly, I am defensive or overwhelmed. I am anxious or offended. I cut off the flow of the Spirit in me and insert my rights above all else. Turning any ugly moment around begins softly with an agreement to so be it. It’s the subtle but powerful yes to lay down your life, to trust that his life being glorified is better than mine. Yes, you have another way, Lord.
a. Find a mirror and look in it. Admit where you’ve been saying no to something he’s been inviting you into. Imagine your next steps of saying yes. Then still looking in the mirror, raise your hand.
7. Give Jesus credit. We have to extend ourselves, and in that extension, give credit liberally to Jesus. The chief barrier to God building great stories among our families and communities isn’t our faith; it’s our pride. He needs only a mustard seed of faith and will still do biblically sized story lines. He just asks that we always give him credit for what he’s done.
a. Tell one person today something Jesus has done in your life. Do so in a way that when you’re done, they are more in awe of Jesus than they are of you.
8. Listen to the right voices. We have so many factors entering into our personhood: birth order, temperament, culture, education, gender, personality, and family influence, just to name a few. It would be easy to point to any of these areas and decide living with sin is an inevitable result of growing up in this family, being a middle child, having a strong personality . . . It’s Satan’s song he sings over us: “Nothing can or will change. This is simply who you are. This is what you get.” The lie couldn’t get any stauncher, and the stakes from breaking free couldn’t be any higher. There is very little in life we really have control over, and this is pretty much it: I control whose voice I listen to and what I do with my soul. Might as well make the most of it.
a. Thank someone today who has encouraged you to listen to God’s voice. Most of us learn to hear God through another’s testimony. It inspires us consider, might God talk to us in the same way?
Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they serve as co-executive directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University with degrees in education, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico. Since founding the international arm of Back2Back in 1997, they have hosted thousands of guests on the ministry campus. Between biological, foster, and adopted children, they have raised ten children.
Beth is the author of multiple books, including Reckless Faith, Relentless Hope, Tales of the Not Forgotten, and several others. Beth is the recipient of the 2013 International Network of Children’s Ministry Legacy Award and the Cincinnati Christian University Salute to Leaders Award for the impact made on children internationally. She travels and speaks regularly at conferences, youth gatherings, and church services. Her style is based in storytelling and she draws from her vast field experience as a missionary and parent of ten children for illustrations of biblical concepts. Visit her website: www.back2back.org
Image courtesy: Unsplash.com
Publication date: May 2, 2017