You probably read the title and thought…who?
If you are unfamiliar with Anna the Prophetess, I am so ecstatic to have the privilege of being the one to introduce you to her! She was truly a remarkable woman whose heart posture was one of worship, consecration, and dedication to the Lord. There is very little written about her, however the fact that she was named at all should give us a strong indication that there is something to note about this woman of God.
We are introduced to Anna in the second chapter of Luke. Context is always important to get a full understanding of the word, so before jumping into our key focus verses, let’s get clear on the background story: Luke opens with the birth, naming and circumcision of Christ, then follows as newborn baby Jesus is brought to the Temple by his parents in order to dedicate him, as was decreed by the law of Moses. While this is going on, we see two people enter to praise and give thanks to God for Jesus’ birth, one of which being Anna.
Luke 2: 36-40 (Good News Translation)
“There was a very old prophet, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for only seven years and was now 84 years old. She never left the Temple; day and night she worshipped God, fasting and praying. That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free. When Joseph and Mary had finished doing all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their home in Nazareth of Galilee. The child grew and became strong; he was full of wisdom, and God’s blessings were upon him.
The mention of Anna is brief, but there are a 4 key takeaways we can draw from her story.
Anna, the Prophetess: Key Takeaways
1. Being Single is Not a Death-Sentence!
We are not given many details about the life or background of Anna. However, one detail that the text makes sure to include is the fact that prior to committing to a life of servitude, she was married. Culturally, women during biblical times married young. If that holds true for Anna, knowing that her husband died after only seven years of marriage would mean that Anna made the choice to spend the rest of her life widowed & single.
Perhaps the pain she experienced through the loss of her spouse was exactly what was needed to propel her into purpose–which was to become a woman of prayer, an intercessor. Anna shows us that a woman can live a totally fulfilled life without a male counterpart. She was whole, complete and lacking nothing because she recognized that her place was in the Temple, where she could abide in the secret place at all times. Her placement in the Temple and position as prophet required that she stand in the gap for her people, her community, and the kingdom–and that was everything!
It is a refreshing reminder of how we as women should embrace whatever position God has appointed us to, knowing that we are there for a purpose greater than ourselves. Unfortunately, I sometimes hear snide comments and cynicism towards women that are totally content in their singleness. For whatever reason (society, cultural norms, ethnic background, family history, etc.) women can tend to feel like they are missing something if they aren’t in a relationship, don’t get married at a certain age, or maybe never at all.
Let Anna’s life serve as a reminder that as long as you are committing to doing the work of the Lord and keep your eyes fixed on Him, then you are exactly where you need to be.
2. God Can Use You at Any Age
Anna is one of only eight women in the Bible who are given the distinction of prophetess. (Don’t worry, we’ll be covering all of them during this series!) Even at 84 years old, she was still heavily involved in the work of the church. Verse 37 states that she “...was now 84 years old. She never left the Temple; day and night she worshipped God, fasting and praying.
We hear all the time about praying grandmothers. Well Anna was a prototype! She literally made the Temple her home. Spiritually, we should all strive to make our hearts & minds the home of the Holy Spirit. In Anna’s case though, just having the spirit dwelling within was not enough. She was consecrated to God and had been anointed to continually be in His presence; to continually be at His feet; to continually be fasting and praying to ensure her spirit was sensitive enough to receive the prophetic downloads, messages, and warnings from God for His people.
In a time where people seem to be losing respect for tradition and where ageism is running rampant, Anna is a great marker of the immense value of our more seasoned saints. They, like Anna, are pillars of strength and an embodiment of the faithful promises of God.
3. Our Bodies as Living Sacrifices
The life that Anna chose was anything but typical. She chose to live a life set apart. The only thing that seemed to concern her was doing her Father’s business. Nothing else mattered. And to double down on her commitment, she also adopted a lifestyle of continual fasting.
Romans 12:1 tells us “to present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship.” Anna understood this principle of offering up her body as a living sacrifice, as seen through the fact that she was continually fasting and praying (v.37). She willingly eliminated things that had the potential to cause distraction or delay, showing that she took her calling and purpose extremely seriously–as we all should.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
(Romans 12: 6-8 NIV)
Living a consecrated life is a call to every believer, regardless of your position or title because we are all created with specific gifts, talents and abilities that are meant to be used in advancing God’s agenda in the world. When we commit our bodies, minds, and spirits completely to the Lord, He is able to direct our steps so that we are moving in accordance to His will. This is why it is so important to take the time to engage in spiritual practices that can help to make us more sensitive to the Spirit, such as fasting.
God is the master builder. He is our source. He is our designer and manufacturer. Therefore, He is the only one that knows what we need to be able to operate fully in our callings and giftings. Knowing this makes it imperative that we yield to the Holy Spirit--allowing it to make our paths straight so we can be the most effective in the area He has called us to dominate in. For Anna, offering herself as a living sacrifice helped her to become a dominating force in the spirit realm through the power of her prayers. Her entire life was devoted to this one thing–
"One thing I have asked of the LORD, and that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD [in His presence] all the days of my life, To gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the LORD And to meditate in His temple."
(Psalm 27:4 AMP)
4. Manning our Posts as Watchmen
As believers, we are all called to be watchmen. If you are unfamiliar with the term, watchman in Hebrew means “one who looks out,” “one who spies,” or “one who watches.” In the natural sense, watchmen were guards, often stationed on high walls in order to keep watch and warn the townspeople of impending threats. Just think of Jon Snow on the Night Watch, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan.
Spiritually speaking though, watchmen were prophets appointed by God to watch over the souls of His people.
Isaiah 62:6 (ESV) says “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest.
Part of Anna’s positioning as prophet required that she manned her post, which was a physical location in the spiritual realm where she could go to access the knowledge of the heavenlies. As a watchman, she served as a gatekeeper, keeping tabs on who and what attempted to enter. The Marvel Comics nerd in me, automatically thinks of Heimdall from Thor. If you are unfamiliar with the reference, Heimdall was the gatekeeper of Asgard and guardian of the Bifrost. Essentially, he was responsible for guarding the portal connecting the Nine Realms. A memorable line from his character is "I will honor my sworn oath to protect this realm as its gatekeeper."
And isn’t that exactly what Anna the Prophetess’ life exemplifies? She committed her life to the Lord early and honored the oath to Him by reporting to her post, through consistent fasting, worship, and prayer. Anna was focused on watching over the souls of God’s people and those whom the Lord has given her specific messages about—one of which being Jesus.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a prophet to be a watchman. In fact, all believers are called to be watchmen. Notice what is written in Luke 12:
“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.”
(Luke 12:37-38 NIV)
Like Anna, we can all be effective, powerful watchmen by continually seeking the Lord in all things by being “unceasing and persistent in prayer “ (1 Thessalonians 5:17).