36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
The Bible does not provide a moment by moment picture of the people of God. From the last prophecy of Malachi to the announcement of John’s birth to Zacharias, God had not spoken for four hundred years. But just as in the days of Elijah, God has, as He always does, preserved for Himself a remnant, a chosen few who remained faithful, and who longed for the coming of the kingdom.
Anna, like Simeon, was one such faithful servant, as were those to whom Anna spoke, those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Her service came in the form of prayer and fasting. We, when faced with trouble, typically seek a strategy to solve the problem, and turn to prayer as a somehow weaker response. We ought instead to begin with prayer, and rejoice that our prayers, like Anna’s, not only served the saints, but as our text reminds us, serve God as well. The prayers of this righteous woman availed much, as our Father sent His only Son for the redemption of not just Jerusalem, but Judea, Samaria, and the outermost parts of the world.
—Pastor R.C. Sproul Jr., Saint Peter Presbyterian Church, Bristol, Virginia
Our loving and faithful Father, we ask that You would make us a people faithful in prayer, and in hope. In Your grace remind us O Lord, to look, and to pray for the coming again of Your Son, and to speak boldly of the Christ, as Anna did, to all those who hope in Him. AMEN.
Consider how you might add occasional fasts to your prayer life. Miss a meal, or a day’s worth of meals, and when hunger comes, use it as a goad to prayer, for a pressing issue in the life of your family or church, or to pray that Jesus’ name would be known throughout the land.