We first hear of Anna in Luke 2 which details, amongst other things, Jesus':
- 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".
One of the most common questions that I am asked by people on my email list (The Far Above Rubies Collective) and my mentees is:
"How do you know when God is speaking to you?"
I always answer that God speaks to me in different ways, but one way that He really makes Himself known to me is through repetition. For example, I may go through periods of time where a particular concept or scripture keeps on popping up (whether it be in conversation, my mind, books I may be reading or multiple sermons). In such instances, I know that God is telling me that He wants me to study these more closely.
This happened to me a few months ago. The scripture that kept coming up, specifically, was the first part of Matthew 21:13:
"And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer...'"
Through studying this, God showed me what I am about to share with you:
A) We typically think of a "house of prayer" as a physical building or the church...
This makes sense, though. I mean, as we just saw:
- When Jesus coined the term, He was talking about an actual temple
- Luke 2:37 says that Anna "did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day"
B) this association does not give the full picture...
As I wrote in my devotional on the lessons that the church can teach us on (mutual) submission, the church is not just simply made up of bricks and mortar, but the people that comprise God's network of believers. This is illustrated in:
#1 John 2:19
which gives another perspective on the events of Matthew 21:12-13. It says that after Jesus overturned the tables etc, the Jews asked Him: “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” and He answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Verse 21-22 of that same chapter then goes on to say:
"But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said."
#2 Ephesians 2:19-22
which says: " Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit".
#3 1st Peter 2:4-5
which says: "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ".
In other words-
c) the phrase "HOUSE OF PRAYER" REFERS TO LITERAL (church) BUILDINGS AS WELL AS US- GOD'S PEOPLE...
This means that, since we are the "spiritual house" of God and His Spirit (1st Corinthians 6:19), we shouldn't just relegate time and communication with God to church attendance or activity. Like Anna, we should be leading a lifestyle of prayer. For, what you can't control in the natural can definitely be controlled in the spiritual through prayer.
so... what about you, lovely?
Do you want to find out more about how you can become more of a "house of prayer". You can read more about prayer (and how to make it a lifestyle) in the following devotionals: