Anna’s story appears in Luke 2, when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to be presented to the Lord at the temple in Jerusalem.
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38
In our group this week, we really focused on Anna’s life. A few things really stood out:
The Life of a Widow
We’re told, in surprising detail, perhaps, that Anna was a widow who was married for only 7 years before her husband died. When she is mentioned, she is either 84 or has been widowed for 84 years. Many Bible scholars put her age at around 105, if she married at age 14. So she has lived as a widow for many, many years. We do not know if she had children – perhaps at this stage, she has outlived them.
So perhaps she has had a lonely life. Or perhaps it has allowed her the independence to really seek after God’s own heart.
Worship, prayer and fasting
We are told that she worshipped day and night, praying and fasting. In a time when God had been silent for 400 years, she did not lose sight of His promises. She is so focused on God and who He is.
This has made me think about worship, prayer and fasting. As you can imagine, I am all about routine and I believe regular worship, prayer and fasting can only help us grow closer to God. While I love sung worship, and play worship music a lot, and I’d say my prayer life is regular, I don’t often fast. I’d really like to develop a habit of fasting.
Anna is the only female prophet named in the New Testament. She recognises immediately that Jesus is the Messiah whom she had been waiting for. She speaks out to those who were in the Temple at the time and told them about Jesus’ coming redemption.
Surely it was because of her devotion to prayer, worship and fasting that she was able to recognise the Messiah so quickly?
Despite her age, despite her widowhood, despite her possible eccentricity compared to other women, God used and blessed Anna greatly. In each of the women we have studied, we’ve seen how God has used them. They have been faithful, loving and obedient, and have been blessed as a result. For Anna, this took a long, long time, but surely, it is worth that time.
Our next heroine?
Next week, we’re moving on to look at Rahab, one of the Old Testament heroines. I really hope you can join us in the Mummy Meditations Community to discuss her actions and her impact.
We’ll be starting with Matthew 1:5 as our key verse, which is from the genealogy of Jesus:
…Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse…