“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.” (Luke 2:36-37).
This post is a continuation from last night “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting.”. Today, I want to share some lessons learned from the dream. The dream didn’t turn out to mean quite what I initially thought, and I am astounded by how much meaning started unravelling from a single scripture. Here’s your “…good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over…” (Luke 6:38). God is amazing! When he speaks, he says so much!
Consider the widow, in the temple, praising God and speaking of the child Jesus to those awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem, prayer and fasting is worship: “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.” (Luke 2:36-37). Consider early in the ministry of Barnabas and Saul (Paul), prayer and fasting is worship and preparation for making an important decision. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3). Then later in Acts, “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust” (14:23). Although I presented just two examples of prayer and fasting from scripture, the Lord has shown me that in addition to all the reasons given to commit to prayer and fasting, one thing each and every account shares is faithfulness, over some period of time. Prayer and fasting is an act of faithfulness, and funny that faithfulness was at the center of Jesus’ rebuke in each of the accounts of the demon possessed boy (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:28-29; Luke 9:40-42).
We are conditioned to equate immediacy with faith. If you have faith, then you can speak to the mountain, and it will move from here to there, now! If you have faith, then you can speak to the lame, and (if they have faith too) they will walk, now! I see what God has done here with this dream, and why it’s important I share his instruction with anyone willing to listen: faith includes waiting on God, which sometimes, perhaps, oftentimes, means waiting a long time. Pretty easy to grasp intellectually, but Satan uses it to stumble us nonetheless, especially in our darkest hours of despair. We read the accounts of miraculous, instantaneous healings in scripture, and let’s be honest, miraculous and instantaneous really, really, really appeals to us, particularly to our flesh. However, in our haste, to receive our breakthrough, we overlook all the biblical accounts in which the miraculous wasn’t actually instantaneous at all, but no less faithful. And I am convinced that our shortsightedness grieves God today, just as it clearly grieved Christ that day with the boy. Brothers and sisters, this shortsightedness, this lack of faith, is of the flesh. Let us, instead, seek to follow in the Spirit, so that we might know God’s will (Romans 12:2). Maybe it’s time we truly step out on faith; maybe it’s time we commit ourselves to prayer and fasting.
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