Only one woman in the New Testament carries the title “prophetess”, and we find her in Luke’s account of Christ’s life.
We do not get more than three verses concerning Anna, but boy can that Luke deal out the information. Strap in and get ready for the ride.
Widowed young, Anna lived at or near the Temple for nearly her entire adult life. She spent every day turning her heart to God and performing His work. How dedicated a daughter!
By the time we meet this devout woman, she is well advanced in years. That does not keep her from working in God’s holy house! She might be an octogenarian, but she gets around.
We do not know the exact nature of the tasks she performed, but that does not really matter. Her greatest blessing came from serving in whatever manner her God requested of her. To His dedicated servant He gave the richest of all blessings. The chance to see the newborn Savior. The chance to spend her remaining years testifying of His birth.
With only a handful of verses, what can we possibly learn from an old woman? How can she ever hope to impart her wisdom upon us?
Prophet and prophetess hold several meanings in the Scriptures. It all boils down to someone that teaches God’s word.
We may not be privy to Anna’s duties in the Temple, but anyone dedicating their life to service within those walls must form the very epitome of a personal relationship with God. When you free yourself of worldly needs and desires, you draw closer to an understanding of God’s world. You find the time to study His word and commune in prayer. Your understanding grows deeper and you grow spiritually stronger.
Working alongside the priests in whatever manner they needed, Anna probably learned even more. While she could not go inside the Temple to where only the men were allowed, she certainly found ways to learn from the many priests serving their two weeks.
Inside the women’s court, Anna could utter her own prayers or minister to those arriving for the day. Women blossom when they can worship one with another. Knowing you could have a wonderful matron in the Temple like Anna to help with your needs, pray alongside you, or simply to discuss spiritual matters with must be a blessing like no other.
I hope the next time I attend services in need, that a modern day Anna might find me worthy of similar attentions. How many went to the Temple struggling with things in their daily lives that Anna bolstered up?
>How does one teach of God? Spread God’s message?
Perhaps that is the question we must dig down inside each of us and find. Let me give you an example of one Anna in my life.
In the year 2001, the most dreaded phone call came. My doctor rang me, and my life changed forever. Four simple words. “Your son has cancer.” My husband immediately took me in his arms, but I was too shocked to think of anything.
As I packed things to race my son to the hospital, I felt dazed. Until that time, the only thing I knew was that ‘cancer kills’. My precious baby, not quite five. How could I lose him?
I immediately called up someone from my MOPS group and told her what happened. Her response was so simple. “Would you like me to pray with you?”
How simple a lesson I learned that day. In a state of shock, I could not think past the immediate task of getting to the hospital, but she reminded me to turn towards God. She also showed me the way a woman truly helps another draw closer to God.<
Over the phone lines we prayed. It wasn’t the last time either. And since then I have offered this service to other woman in need. No, I’m not afraid to kneel in prayer over a phone with another.
This sweet angel did so much for me during the months that followed. Praying with me, for me, talking to me, reading me encouraging Bible verses, mailing me uplifting devotionals, and once she even washed and folded my laundry. Bethany’s Fluff and Fold – Laundry with a Prayer.
Somehow in my mind, though quite a lot older than my friend, I picture Anna as this woman. My sorrow is that after moving away, I lost contact with my personal Anna.
While I don’t think that Bethany fell into what we classically might consider a “prophetess” and predicted the future, however she definitely helped to bring people closer to God and teach them of Him and His word. She ministered to His people and followed His will. Her faithful service definitely puts her well on the path towards becoming a prophetess in the most basic sense.
These are the things Anna most likely did. Because she devoted her entire life towards these things, Luke called her a prophetess. It might not be an office that she held so much as a description of her life.
It also shows that women have a place in Christ’s Church. Obviously Luke believed so to refer to this wonderful woman and bring light to her ability to serve God.