|We typically read the account of Simeon and the prophet Anna together. They both are a part of the scene when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple. What was a customary visit for the young family, turned to a moment of praise and worship for many others.
Luke tells us the Spirit guided Simeon to where the parents were (Luke 2:27). People often ask what it means to hear from God. This is a perfect illustration to consider. How was Simeon guided? Was it a voice? A feeling? Were there step-by-step directions? I consider myself someone who has never heard God’s voice but has heard the voice of God. Or maybe I’ve never heard the voice of God, but I know I’ve heard God’s voice.
Either way, there was something about that moment that guided Simeon to meet Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
Let’s also consider Anna. We know a few things about her that set up her appearance. At the time, she was an eighty-four-year-old widow. She never left the temple. Fasting and prayer marked her life.
Simeon and Anna recognized the birth of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s redemption promise. Both represent faithfulness in different ways. Each praised God in response to meeting Jesus. Their witness reminded me today of two ways God leads us.
I assume whatever guidance the Spirit gave Simeon was a bit sudden. The devout man responded in that moment to the Spirit’s nudging. Now, Luke doesn’t tell us the Spirit guided Anna to meet the family. But that doesn’t mean she was any less guided by the Spirit.
After all, remember what we know about her. She filled her life with worship. And let’s be clear. Worship for Anna was not music or liturgy or special occasions. Luke describes her worship as “fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37).
There are sudden moments God gets our attention. What our next step is becomes clear in an instant. Praise God when that happens. Most times, though, our experience is more akin to Anna’s. There may be fewer sudden flashes of clarity. She has learned to follow God with each breath and live in constant communion with God.
So, the question for us is, How do we become more aware of God’s presence around us? How do we recognize Christ among us? It isn’t by accident.
Worship recenters our selfish attention. Understanding prayer and fasting better also prepares us. Prayer is not a mere communication tool. It is worship. Fasting isn’t a way to tell God you really want something. It is worship.
The more willing we are to worship night and day, the better we get at following the Spirit’s lead.
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