PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you, as a living sacrifice
Jesus, I belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Luke 2:36–38 (NIV)
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Simeon has just handed the baby back to Mary and Joseph and is about to head back to mind the store when another encounter pops up. Here comes someone else approaching the little family. It is a very elderly woman. She looks to be on a mission. Her face is beaming with joy. It’s Anna and we are told she is a prophetess. In short, it means she hears from God. Many years ago, after seven years of marriage, her husband died, and the life and future she dreamed of sharing with him was crushed.1 Somewhere along the way, she received an assignment from the Lord to fashion her life as a house of prayer. Anna became an intercessor and lived a life of deep abiding prayer. Like Simeon, she was not on the temple staff. Something tells me that the temple staff likely came to Anna for prayer along with many others in the community. I think of her like I think of Mrs. Betty Jane, whom I have written about many times here. I have known a lot of “Annas” and “Simeons” over the years—women and men; young and old. They are humble and bold, unassuming and fully alive in the Spirit.
[As an aside, I am praying about teaching a short course this March called How to Pray and Fast for Life and Awakening. I would bring some Anna and Simeon types (young and old). I am assessing interest through this one minute—three question survey. Please let me know.]
Something we should notice about Anna and Simeon—we are told Simeon, “was waiting for the consolation of Israel,”; and Anna, “was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” This tells us they knew when they were. They understood the times in which they lived and lived consecrated lives. They were awake. They were deeply aware of the troubled times in which they lived and the disastrous, declining conditions in their country and among their people. They had become convicted it couldn’t be fixed by the government or any other earthly authority. They recognized they faced a God-sized problem and needed a God-sized solution. They knew they must have the intervening deliverance of an awakening. As they waited, they worked—and as they worked, they prayed—and as they prayed, they fasted—and as they fasted, they grew in deep humility, profound authority, and breathtaking love.
Look what Anna did that day, “she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” Anna recognized the God-sized solution in the form of the tiny baby Jesus. And she spoke about him to all those around who were also longing for God to break in and turn things around. Go Anna Anna Bo Banna!!!
This, my friends, is not church work. It is the work of the church.2 It is the calling of every follower of Jesus. The time for the busy-ness of church work has long past. The time for the real work of the church—the work of the everyday ordinary people of God—is upon us. The time has come to sow for a great awakening.
Wake up sleeper, and rise from the dead! And Christ will shine on you!
See you in Nazareth on Monday.
Our Father, we keep praying that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know you better, that I might become truly humble; which is to awaken to the person you imagined when you fashioned my inmost being and that I might rise up into the real life for which you created me. Forgetting what is past, I press on toward this high calling. But for today, let me find myself next to Anna as she prays and fasts for awakening, listening for the Spirit’s voice, and encouraging everyone around her. I want to live a consecrated life of simple obedience and extravagant love. Show me the next small thing. Come Holy Spirit, I am ready to move with you. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
Can you see yourself in Simeon and Anna—two who were perhaps exceptional in their time yet who show us what is the real possibility for us all in our time—in our present station in life and our present line of work? Are you recognizing the God-sized challenges of our time and the desperate need for a God-sized solution?
The hymn today is “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” hymn 217 (verse 3) in our Seedbed hymnal Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
NOTES FOR ADDITIONAL REFLECTION AND STUDY
- I want to tell you of the work of two friends of mine, Rachel Faulkner Brown and Karen McAdams. They lead a ministry called Never Alone Widows. It is a beautiful work to bring restoration and hope to widows around the country.
- I am getting some push back on my use of the term layperson or laity. I don’t really like the terms either, or the dichotomies they can create. What I am trying to say is non-clergy people. The rise of clericalism and a professionalized clergy over the centuries has often diminished the primary role of the people of God to do the primary work of God in the world. Hear me out though—the ordained clergy have an essential role to play in the body of Christ and in trying to call forth the “people” which is what laity means. I do not want to diminish the essential calling and assignment of the clergy. I have written about this a number of times. Here is a good example. You might also see Ephesians 4:11–16.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt