Friday, April 13, 2018

The Ministry of Prayer

"She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying" (Luke 2:37).

Yesterday I wrote about the prophecy of Simeon. At the very moment that Simeon was speaking, an aged woman came up to Mary and Joseph and joined in praising God (Luke 2:38). We are told that this woman’s name was Anna and that she was a prophetess. She was from the tribe of Asher, one of the ten supposedly lost tribes of the Northern Kingdom. In other words, she was part of the godly remnant of Israel.

She had been married when young, but after seven years her husband had died (v. 36). The first part of Luke 2:37 tells us that she had been a widow since then. Either she was 84 years old, or else she had been a widow for 84 years (which would make her well over 100 years old). It is not possible to be certain which translation is correct.

Since her husband’s death, she had lived in the Temple precincts and had devoted herself to helping other women and teaching as a prophetess. But primarily she had devoted herself to prayer and fasting. The word translated as worship in our version of Luke 2:37 can simply mean “service.” She served God with prayer and fasting.

There was once a most unusual man. He was in his 80s and for years had served as a foreign missionary. When age and infirmity had forced him into retirement from active service as a missionary, he decided that he still wanted to have a mission of service to God. Even though he was nearly blind and almost totally bedridden, he committed himself to working for Christ eight hours a day.

That eight hours was spent in concentrated prayer. He knew how to pray, and he prayed fervently. And as James tells us, “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

How is your prayer life? Take time now to ask God to help you improve your prayers, and then make a list of people you need to pray for. Prayer is service, and it is a form of service all of us can and must do.