We tend to look at prayer as something we do in order to receive things from God. Sometimes we look at prayer as a way of giving thanks to God. And there are times we pray just to fellowship with the Lord. But as we look at pictures of prayer in the Gospels, we run across an individual that highlights another aspect of prayer, which is also important.
Anna was a person in the Bible that usually shows up in our churches only once a year (around Christmas time). She was an original Senior Warrior. Depending on how you interpret our text, she was either 84 years young, or had been widowed for 84 years, which would make her over 100 years old. Either way, “she was of a great age.”
Anna gives us a unique picture of prayer: serving by praying. She never left the temple (decade after decade) and she served God. But this was how she served God: with fastings and prayers. We tend to think of serving as physical activities only. But praying can be the most powerful ministry you have! Notice:
Anna prayed consistently – Need I say more? 84 years without fail, without quiting, without getting discouraged enough to throw in the towel, without leaving it for the younger generation, without waiting for other people to join her, without giving up when the answer didn’t come. She just kept praying.
Anna prayed frequently – “night and day.” We don’t know the details, but it was clearly not every once in a while, or even once a day. It was an ongoing part of her life, that seemed to be unending. She was truly praying “without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17).
Anna prayed sacrificially – Her prayer life included fasting, which is intentionally foregoing physical nourishment (or at times pleasures) in order to seek God with greater intensity and focus. She did not take the easy route or convenient path when it came to serving God. She paid the price.
Anna prayed expectantly – Even though it took her entire lifetime, when Jesus the Messiah was presented in the Temple, her prayer immediately turned to thanksgiving (vs. 38). She even began to testify and witness. Anna prayed expecting God to answer – though she did not know when or how.
The take-away? We need to witness, volunteer, give, sing, but above all this, we need to pray. It is through prayer that everything else is empowered because we are connecting with God. You want to serve God and impact the world? Start on your knees.
Question: How have you been able to serve God through your prayer life?