I love prayer meetings. My grandparents and parents not only took me to them but they taught me by example the importance of prayer. Today, as the story of Christmas continues I am reflecting on the prayer meetings Simeon and Anna attended and why you and I should do the same.
If their prayer meetings were like the ones I’ve observed in the past 36 years, they’re not packed, just a faithful few attend them. I bet these meetings were Spirit filled. I use this terminology because of what I read in Luke 2:22-40. The Holy Spirit is leading Simeon and Anna to Jesus. Prayer meetings worth attending are Holy Spirit filled. He is present to lead, guide, remind and inspire. Back to Simeon.
We read that he was just, devout and waiting for the consolation of Israel. We also read that the Holy Spirit was upon him. It was revealed to Simeone by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he saw Jesus the Messiah.
I’m thinking that Simeon’s devotion to God allowed him to walk in the Spirit and to be moved by the Spirit. I can imagine that Simeon stopped whatever he was doing the day Jesus came to the temple as a newborn baby. I want to be devout like that. I want to stop whatever I am doing so I can follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. Here’s how this whole thing worked with Simeon:
”Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying...”
Luke 2:27-28 (NIV)
He basically says some of the most beautiful words of praise someone can say when faced with Jesus the Messiah. He also tells God, "I can die now because my eyes have seen your salvation." Simeon could have stopped there but he goes on to prophesy over that Newborn’s life. What a powerful moment that must have been to all involved!
I am of the opinion that prophets hang out together so at that very moment, an old prophetess, Anna, arrives at the scene. The Bible tells us that she served God with prayers and fastings day and night at that same temple. She also thanked God for Jesus and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. What a great day at the temple that might have been!
There are so many lessons to be learned from this scene. I’d love to focus on these 3 lessons:
- Simeon and Anna persisted in spiritual discipline - from what I can read in Luke, they had to know the Holy Scriptures (Old Testament at the time), they prayed, fasted and were in constant communication with God. They didn’t do this just for show, but it came from a love for God Himself and a trust that His promises would come to pass. We also know that through spiritual discipline, Simeon was able to walk in the Spirit and to live a life where the Holy Spirit was in control. I so want a walk like that, don’t you?
- Simeon and Anna were the faithful few - everyone had to go to the temple for certain functions but these two were there all the time. They were the faithful few. I’m not saying we all need to camp in church but in the comfort of our own homes, we can carve time to practice the disciplines of these faithful few. Personally, in the new year, I will carve more time to pray for more than 30 minutes. I also want to make Biblical fasting more of a habit. I’m thankful that my church believes in prayer meetings and offers opportunities for corporate prayer. I want to be faithful in my prayer life.
- Simeon and Anna were moved by the Spirit - I choose to believe that this instance in Luke 2 was not the only time this happened. One always grows in their connection with the Holy Spirit. We know that as we remember the story of the boy Samuel (1 Samuel 3:7), who had to grow to know the voice of God. If it was automatic, someone like Samuel would have it because he lived in the temple. You and I, through our continual relationship with God, can grow in our walk with the Holy Spirit and we can grow to be moved by the Spirit. I am eager for this reality friends! I want to be natural yet, supernatural. Simeon was moved by the Holy Spirit to go to the temple and there He was, the Hope of Israel! Immediately he recognized the fulfillment of promises of old. Their persistence in prayer, their years of fasting and studying the Holy Scriptures was rewarded by God’s faithfulness: Jesus.
Allow me to be transparent and tell you that prayer meetings are not sexy. I can hear crickets when I invite a large amount of people to pray for one hour. The fact that we are putting ourselves in the mercy of a supernatural, all powerful, mysterious yet all knowing God is not on most people’s list. I want to encourage you to pursue God anyway.
For every Simeon out there, there’s an Anna. We can find comfort in the fact that there are others who are also trying to pray, fast, study the Bible and have a daily relationship with the Holy Spirit. It can be done people. I know it can be done. I've seen my ancestors do it so I don't think I have an excuse.
I want to encourage you and I not to settle for the "sexy" part of religion. I want to encourage you and I to push beyond our fears and intimidation. I make my words the words of Hosea:
"So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth."
Hosea 6:3 (NASB)