It's a powerful thing, a rewarding thing, to set aside a few days for prayer and fasting, but I was really stirred this past week by the story of a woman whose life demonstrated a decades-long pattern of consistent prayer and fasting: she has gone on to heaven now, but her name was Anna.
Anna was an old woman at the time of this story - at least 84 years, maybe even older - and she routinely filled her life with prayer. When her husband died, rather than getting stuck in the pain she found fresh life as she invested countless hours into prayer. This worship-filled prayer erupted quite naturally one day into a very public, God-centered overflow from her thankful heart. It was the day an infant named Jesus came to the temple where she prayed, carried by his mother and step-father when he was just eight days old.
Anna had consistently led her life along a course of fasting and prayer, and the Bible says it was an expression of her worship, night and day. Because she knew the blessing of finding her deepest desire in God Himself, it's no wonder that God enabled her to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of that desire, the one who would bring redemption to His people. God's revelation to her poured out that day in a thankful declaration to everyone around her that this little baby would be the long-awaited redeemer, the Messiah. (Read this story for yourself in Luke Chapter 2.)
3 Lessons from Anna's Life:
- Those who spend time in prayer that is full of worship and thanksgiving can expect to enjoy actual fellowship with God too, not just have a one-way monologue. This adds a whole new dimension and anticipation to prayer!
- An ongoing pattern of prayer is more likely to be sustained when it's full of worship, rather than consisting only of presenting our petitions and problems.
- Those who come hungry for God can expect to be filled and "fed" in their times of prayer. Anna had 84 years of proof that this is true, and Jesus would affirm it about thirty years later: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." - Matthew 5:6