[Anna, a prophet] never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. Luke 2:36-38
Prayer along with fasting was something that was Anna's regular practice. She had chosen a simple lifestyle engaged in one simple yet profound activity: fasting in prayer.
Insofar as fasting helps promote prayer (and I could use a good book on fasting) it can be good. Prayer is the activity of the soul, meaning us in our whole person pouring ourselves out to God, humble and simple and unadorned as that pouring out in prayer may and really normally should be.
I believe there is no greater thing we can do than simply to pray to God. This does take at least a personal "fast" at the moment from everything else. We think no other thoughts- at least that's the aim- do nothing else except pray.
What Anna's requests were is not made known to us, though they certainly were related directly and indirectly to "the redemption of Jerusalem."
Do we really believe in God enough to lift our hearts to God in prayer? Do we believe our prayers matter? That they arise as holy incense to the Lord and are answered in God's good time? This is especially true when we lift up our hearts together, before God.
Anna believed, and so prayed. I'm sure she had many days when it was just a simple act of faith, devoid of any great feelling. When one fasts, this can particularly be true; it's not a feel good state. I think God values our prayers that we pray when we don't feel like praying. But we choose to because we want to, and in so doing, we're actually, in the mystery of God's working, making a difference.
Advent is a time of looking forward to the freeing of ourselves, others and the world- in Jesus. This is directly and indirectly what our praying is all about, and we look forward to its fulfillment, just as Anna did, in the God and Word who became flesh/human, Jesus.
What would you add to this, or say? (a question for all these posts, whether I state it or not)