Lessons from Anna on Being a House of Prayer

Lessons from Anna on Being a House of Prayer

We first hear of Anna in Luke 2 which details, amongst other things, Jesus':

  • Birth
  • Circumcision
  • Presentation at the temple in Jerusalem.

It is during Jesus and His parents' stint in Jerusalem that Anna makes her debut in Luke 2:36-38, which says:

"Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem".

When I read that scripture it reminds me of Matthew 21 which tells of Jesus' triumphant return to Jerusalem many years later, as a grown man. The part of this passage that I am particularly put in mind of is Matthew 21:12-13:-

"Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”

Whilst these scriptures speak of contrasting moments in Jesus' life (the beginning of His life and the end of His life respectively), there are some common themes that I would like to explore. Namely, what it means to be a "house of prayer".

Lessons from Esther on how to go from stuck to successful (in 3 simple steps)!

Lessons from Esther on how to go from stuck to successful (in 3 simple steps)!

In the last few weeks, we have been studying purpose- particularly as it relates to Esther. So far we have discussed what she teaches us about purpose in terms of:

  • What it is
  • How to discover it
  • Why this will benefit you (spiritually, mentally and so on).

If you missed this, you can check out the devotionals below. Lessons from Esther on:

  1. The common misconceptions about purpose and how to avoid them
  2. The positive correlation between existential questioning and purpose
  3. How purpose helps us achieve our goals

Today we are going to talk about how we can move from knowing about purpose in theory to actually being able to walk in it in our everyday lives.

Lessons from esther on how purpose helps us achieve our goals

In the last few weeks, we have been studying purpose- particularly as it relates to Esther. So far we have discussed what she teaches us about:

As I've been studying and writing about her, one of the things that struck me about the story of Esther is that it's typically portrayed as a Cinderella story or fairytale. What do I mean by that, you may be wondering? I mean that, in my experience, people tend to focus on:

  • Her beauty
  • Her chastity 
  • How gracious and submissive she must have been for choosing to wear what the king liked, unlike all the other virgins (Esther 2:15)
  • The fact that she was chosen to be the king's wife (going from rags to riches)

However, as stated in one of my previous devotionals on her, she was more than just the king's trophy wife. Esther was fierce! Think about it. She knew that going before the king without permission could get her killed, but she was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for her people (death) if it meant that they might live (Esther 4:11).

In just focusing on her afore-mentioned attributes, without any mention of her bravery, willingness to break protocol and fight, we do both Esther and modern women a disservice (particularly little girls). This is because that version of her story:

  • Exacerbates the problem of limited female representation (in terms of how little we are spoken of generally and in what contexts we are spoken about when we are discussed, particularly where the matriarchs of the faith are concerned)
  • Objectification of women's bodies (either as weapons for "tempting godly men" or for the sole purpose of pleasing them) 
  • Depreciation of women's roles and identity 

Also, we miss yet another lesson that Esther teaches us about purpose- how essential it can be in helping us achieve our goals. For example:

Lessons from Esther on the Positive Correlation between Existential Questioning and Pupose

Lessons from Esther on the Positive Correlation between Existential Questioning and Pupose

In the last few weeks, I've been talking a lot about purpose in terms of:

#1 What it is

("The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists").

#2 The common misconceptions associated with it and how to avoid them

Misconceptions such as:

  • The road to purpose being linear or 1-dimensional
  • Purpose always being about following your passions or pursuing what you love
  • The idea that you can come into purpose by yourself or without mentorship

(If you missed that, you can catch up here).

In doing all of that I've been laying the foundation for all of the theory and (Christian) theology surrounding purpose but, I'm sure you're absolutely itching to know-

"How does all this talk of purpose apply to my everyday life?!"

Okay, okay...I hear you!

Let me explain....

Lessons from Esther on the Common Misconceptions about Purpose and How to Avoid Them

Lessons from Esther on the Common Misconceptions about Purpose  and How to Avoid Them

The Book of Esther chronicles Esther’s ascension to the throne as well as the exploits that she achieved for her people as queen. If you’re familiar with this story, and you’re anything like me, then you strongly associate it with a particular line- which can be found at the tail end of Esther 4:14-

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

If you’re not, don’t worry! I will be jumping into the meat of her story shortly. But, for now, I just want to concentrate on that scripture…

I personally love it because it speaks of purpose in the following ways:

Lessons from the Shulamite Woman on God's Timing

Lessons from the Shulamite Woman on God's Timing

Unlike most of the women that we have studied so far, The Shulamite Woman is a fictional character. She is featured in The Song of Solomon as one of the main protagonists alongside her “beloved”. This book of the Bible is an extended piece of lyrical poetry written by King Solomon which, on the surface, appears to be about romantic love (although, like most scriptures about love and marriage, it also contains some parallels between these and Christ’s relationship with the church). As such, The Shulamite Woman has much to teach us- not only about this topic- but adhering to God’s timing.

Lessons from 30 amazing Women of the Bible

Lessons from 30 amazing Women of the Bible

This week (October 3rd to be exact) was my birthday and- it wasn't just any birthday- it was my 30th! Also, although I didn't actually make it public until late November, this month will mark a year since I started this blog with a view to:

  • Raise the profile of the contributions of the women of the Bible and how the lessons contained in these can be practically applied in our modern spiritual walks
  • Empower Christian women to fully embrace their unique identities and purpose in Christ, free of the stereotypes and traditions that can "so easily best" us

To celebrate, I am going to share my top 30 women of the Bible along with what they taught me either about Christian womanhood/femininity or life in general. So, in alphabetical order, here goes!

An Interview with Ashley Murphy on Mary (Jesus' mother)

An Interview with Ashley Murphy on Mary (Jesus' mother)

Today's interview feature comes from Ashley Murphy, of ashleysartcloset.blogspot.co.uk where she shares her photography, paintings and musings about life. Read on as she shares her insights on Mary (mother of Jesus), her favourite woman of the Bible, and what we as modern women can learn from her.