Fasting and Prayers are, and will always be the two most vital tools for Christians. These two tools help us to break, destroy and demolish any strong holds that is coming our way. It also allows us to grow spiritually and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ and gives us the capacity to perform under authority. Fasting & Prayers will carry us to great dept in the Lord and allow us to live sanctify, pure and holy lives. But most importantly it will give us spiritual ears and eyes which will help to develop our spiritual discernment.
Every Christian should allow themselves to fast at least once or twice a week and pray daily. In doing this it will keep you away from temptation also and built you spiritually. If you do not fast and pray, your walk with God will simply be ineffective and powerless.
We should not fast and pray only because we need something from the Lord but because we want him to be the head of our live and we desire to see signs and wonders and long for a change in our lives, community, city, borough, state, country and or nation, and /or to maintain our spiritual life. Anytime fasting and prayers has to be done in order to bring change, it calls for great intercession and persistence. Because when God has to release something big or great to us, the enemy will try to stop it at any cost. Therefore, it will also cost us in our fasting and prayer. The reason why it will cost us, is because there must be deep intercession, persistence, pressing, spiritual warfare, commitment but most of all, letting go of FOOD and finding TIME to pray.
As we look closely at fasting and prayer in this week’s lesson we will see how an OLD WOMAN prayed for change. She prayed until this change came about, not only for herself, but for the nation. Do we want to see change in our lives or the live of an individual around us, or even for this nation, then we have to pray until it happen. Part one of this week’s lesson will focus on Anna the prophetess and who were the Gentiles, but before we look at the life of Anna and the Gentiles, let’s get some history about the text we will focus attention on.
The Gospel of Luke does not identify its author. From Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-3, it is clear that the same author wrote both Luke and Acts, addressing both to “most excellent Theophilus,” and Theophilus who was possibly a Roman dignitary. The Gospel of Luke was likely written between A.D. 58 and 65 and was probably penned by Luke making him the only Gentile to pen any books of Scripture.
This book’s purpose is to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ and all HE “began to do and to teach until the day HE was taken up to heaven” (Acts 1:1-2). Luke’s gospel is unique because it’s an “orderly account” (Luke 1:3) consistent with the Luke’s medical mind—often giving details the other accounts omit. Luke’s history of the life of the Great Physician emphasizes His ministry to—and compassion for—Gentiles, Samaritans, women, children, tax collectors, sinners, and others regarded as outcasts in Israel.
Luke begins by telling us about Jesus' parents; the birth of His cousin, John the Baptist; Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born in a manger; and the genealogy of Christ through Mary. Since Luke was a Gentile, his references to the Old Testament are relatively few. And Luke wrote to the Gentiles.
Now who were the Gentiles?
We know that the label Gentile comes from the Latin gens, which is a translation of the Hebrew word goy and the Greek word ethnos and means “nation” or “people. The term “Gentile” includes those nations and people who exist outside the laws and justice of God. Before Jesus went on the cross, all the people on Earth who weren’t Jews were called Gentiles.
Therefore, we can say there were Jews, Gentiles and the Church of God according to 1-Corinthians 10:32, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.” But after Jesus died on the cross, Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Nonetheless, Gentiles here were non-Israelite people.
Now that we have some history let’s look at the text and understand what it’s saying to us? This Anna wasn’t the wife of Elkanah nor the mother of Samuel whose name was Hannah that is mentioned in 1-Samuel 1:1-2 but was another Hannah. The Anna here lived during the time of Jesus Christ. Anna is not mentioned by the other gospel writers, and serves to bring together several key Lukan themes. First is Luke’s emphasis on women being used by God. Luke refers to the ministry of women in a positive light more than any other New Testament writers. Second, by calling Anna a prophetess, Luke once again reveals that God is at work speaking to and through certain individuals.
Who is Anna?
Note that in this text that we are dealing with Anna and verse 36-37 tells us who she was. Just as with Simeon in verse 25, the account of Anna begins with a description of her characteristics. Her name Anna means, ‘favored’, grace or gracious. The meaning of her name denotes the very quality she possessed, “graciousness”. She was one that had the grace of God herself, and was a publisher of the glad tidings of grace and redemption by Christ, to others. Anna was a prophetess and a prophetess is someone who is a female who is a foreteller. Or an inspired woman. Or a person gifted at expositing divine truth. And /or one who speaks forth by the inspiration of God. She declares the mind or message of God for a particular situation or an interpreter or forth-teller of the divine will.
Anna’s work as a prophetess was to speak the Word of God, and share what she knew about Jesus with all who would listen to her. Anna was the daughter of Phanuel, who was a man well known in that day, of the tribe of Asher, which was in Galilee. And Anna father's name is mentioned, to remind us of Jacob's Phanuel. The word Penuel is mentioned in Gen. 32:30, “30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Even though we know little of Anna’s father Phanuel, we know he was from the tribe of Asher. The tribe of Asher was one of the ten northern tribes of Israel carried off into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 B.C which was lost. But God preserved one of their descendants as His child, who was Anna. Asher is mentioned in 2-Chronicles 30:10-11 10”So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.” 11nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. Also Joshua 19:24-31.
Anna was of age and was married for seven years. She was married for seven years, which was also seven years from her virginity. And is now an 84years old the bible says (four score and four). But does Luke mean that she had been a widow for eighty-four years? If so, and assuming she got married as young as 15, she would be 106 years old (15+7+84=106). She lived in the temple and Luke does not tell us how her physical needs were met, but he does tell us about how she relied night and day on the Lord. She served God in fasting and prayers night and day. She did what a widow normally would do according 1-timothy 5:5”Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.”
Let’s note how similar the beginning of verses 25, 33, 36 which mentioned, Simeon, the parents, Anna. Looking at the life of Anna we can learn several things from her about prayer. But next week as we conclude this lesson we will look at several things that Anna did in her fasting and prayer that gave her result. These same methods we can follow in order to bring us result.