Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-38
Only a few short verses in the book of Luke are dedicated to Anna the prophetess, but they are so profound and I believe we can learn a lot from her story. Anna was one of the few female prophets mentioned in the New Testament. After seven years of marriage her husband died and I cannot imagine what that was like for Anna. We can guess that even if her husband was not a good man, this would still be a tragic event in her life because being a widow in those times was not exactly glamorous. Widows were not considered heirs, and it does not mention that she had sons to take care of her, so we can assume that she had her fair share of struggles. What I admire about Anna is that in the midst of tragedy and a complete life change, she held fast to the Lord and to His word. She had distinct gifting in the area of prophecy and the Bible says that she never left the temple and worshiped God day and night with fasting and prayer. That’s dedication! Since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down to dwell among us on earth, we no longer need to visit temples and offer sacrifices of atonement – in fact 1 Corinthians 6 says that since the Holy Spirit is inside us, our bodies are now temples. So the fact that Anna never left the temple is key to this lesson – she was always dwelling in the presence of God, always pursuing Him, always in tune with what He had to say and we can experience this same thing throughout our daily lives because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and His word is readily accessible to us. We have to be constantly aware of the Holy Spirit’s promptings and convictions so that we can grow spiritually and get to know and recognize the Father, Son and Spirit deeper as we continue through life. One day, Anna walked past Simeon who was talking with Mary and Joseph as they were holding Jesus as a baby (for more reading, this is just as Simeon had finished prophesying over Jesus, Luke 2:25-35). This was the day that Anna had been created for, I believe. She was a prophetess, and her whole life’s purpose was to know God on a deeper level each day so that when she saw Him with her own eyes, she recognized Him immediately and without hesitation. She knew God so well, she enjoyed such an intimate relationship with Him, that when she walked past, she knew who this baby was.
Anna knew God because she spent all her time in His presence and therefore she recognized Him immediately. It’s hard sometimes to discern when God is speaking or if it’s something we have conjured up in our minds. The more we know Him, the easier it is to recognize Him. The way we get to know Him? We dig deeper and more frequently into His word, and we spend time in His presence in prayer and reverence for who He is. This is the journey that I am on. I want to know him so well as a result of my ‘dwelling in the temple’ that I cannot question what is God and what is not – I will know immediately His voice, His presence, His promptings in my spirit. Join me on this journey, you can never have enough or too much of Him and His word.