“Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17)
The gospels reference Jesus Christ praying 25 times. Ten of those times detail the words he spoke. We even have his lesson on pray that he taught his disciples in Matthew 6:9-13. However, when you study Jesus’ prayers, you will discover there is one thing missing in all his prayers. Want to guess what it was? Jesus never one time said “amen” at the end of any of his prayers. Why do you think that was?
First, nowhere in the bible is it required of us to use the word amen in our prayers. The first time we find the word “amen” in the bible is in the book of Numbers. It is a term that means, “so be it,” or “it is true.” It is the biblical response of affirmation and acceptance, that later became a common term used in New Testament churches. Jesus was using a form of the word when he would say, “verily, verily I say to you.” Now some of you may point out that the last part of the Lord’s Prayer says, “for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” That was added by the early church from Christians living in the eastern half of the Roman Empire as a doxology. It is not part of the original Lord’s Prayer that Christ taught.
It is the lack of the term “amen” at the end of Jesus Christ’s prayers that teach us something very important. Prayer is much more than merely “just a little talk with Jesus, to make it right.” Prayer in the Old Testament was about being submerged in the presence of God. And the place to be submerged in his presence was in what we call The Tabernacle. The Hebrews called the Tabernacle the Mishkan. Mishkan means dwelling. The Tabernacle was the dwelling place of God. Therefore, it was the central place of prayer. The most holy and sacred place on the earth, where God and man met together. It was where a supernatural encounter between the Creator and his creation took place.
However, when we fast forward to the New Testament time of grace, the location of the Tabernacle changed from a tent or building to individuals. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple?” We are now God’s Mishkan. We are the place where he dwells. So, all our intimacy with God takes place inside of us.
But the term mishkan has another meaning to it. It means to remain, continue, abide. And that is why Jesus Christ never said amen at the end of his prayers. Because our prayer time in the morning is only the beginning, the start of a day of consistent ongoing communication with God. Our intimate conversation with the Lord needs to continue all day wherever we go, whatever we do, because we always carry his mishkan with us. There is no “amen” to our prayers when we are always in the presence of God. Jesus doesn’t ask us to put a period where he put a comma. Now we know why Paul wrote, “pray without ceasing?”