In a post today on Charisma News, author and popular speaker Carol McLeod wrote an insightful post on what Christians can learn about hearing God from a familiar 84-year-old prophetess - Anna.
Here's a memory refresher if you don't recall who Anna is.
"And there was Anna a prophetess, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow of about eighty-four years of age who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayer night and day. Coming at that moment she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2:36-38)
McLeod elaborates about the prophetess, "Not only did she hear God's voice, but she had given God her mouth to use at her moment in history. Anna heard things others did not hear and said things others were not called upon to speak."
The author notes that there's always a deeper meaning behind Biblical names. Phanuel, the name of Anna's father, means "vision of God". McLeod explains that Anna had been "trained [by her father] to look for and to hear from a kingdom that cannot be seen with the natural eye nor heard with the natural ear."
1. Anna experienced God's victory.
"Did you know that "Phanuel" is also the place where Jacob wrestled with God? I wonder if Anna had done some wrestling in her life over her grief or her disappointment?" McLeod notes, "You don't reach the ripe old age of 84 without wrestling with God a time or two along life's journey."
McLeod states, "It is not a sin to wrestle with God as long as you enter the fight knowing that God will always win. When Jacob wrestled with God at Phanuel, God changed Jacob's name to Israel, which means, 'Victory.'"
"If you are wrestling with God today, you can be sure that God is going to work a great victory in your life. When a child of God wrestles and leans into the ways of the Father, it might just produce the greatest victory that you will ever experience this side of heaven," the popular women's speaker says, concluding this point.
2. Anna was happy.
"Phanuel and Anna were both of the tribe of Asher, which was one of the 12 tribes of Israel," McLeod mentions. "The name Asher means 'happy.'"
At the time, girls were married in their early teens. Anna was widowed just seven years after being married, putting her somewhere in her early 20s at the time her husband died. At 84, she'd been alone for around 60 years of her life.
"As I think about this woman," McLeod ponders, "I must wonder if Anna's life had perhaps turned out differently than she had hoped. I wonder if she had longed to hold babies of her own and instead she watched other women for generations bring their babies to the temple."
But, McLeod continues, "If Anna was disappointed with life, you never would have known it by her actions. She gave every hour of every day of every year to the Lord; Anna prayed when others would have whined. Anna fasted when others would have been frustrated. Rather than hearing the sweet giggle of a baby or the pitter-pat of tiny feet, Anna was intent on hearing the voice of God. Instead of talking solely about her personal pain, she was a prophetess and declared the plan of God."
It's these two gems that we can take from the prophetess's life.
"Anna's life was not a waste, but it was an incredible example of what one woman can do by determining to stay close to God, to hear His voice and to be His mouthpiece. She wasn't defined by her pain or by the wrestling, but she will always be remembered as the woman who fasted, prayed and worshipped. Anna will also be remembered as the woman who recognized Jesus," McLeod says.
"Oh, how I want to be like Anna!" the author concludes.