Our fasting quote of encouragement today is from an Unknown Author. He said: “Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to yourself, that you are serious about your relationship with Him. Fasting helps you to gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.”
Our fasting devotional today is titled “ANNA: FASTING FOR THE FIRST COMING OF THE KING” from John Piper, author of the bestselling book “A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer”.
In calling for the church to fast for the coming King, we are not asking for something new. Luke 2:36–38 shows us an old woman who gave almost her whole life to this sacred ministry before the King came the first time.
There was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. And she never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Mary and Joseph had just brought the infant Jesus into the temple. Luke tells us about two very old people, Simeon and Anna, who recognize who the baby is. What marks both of these people is that they were yearning and longing for the coming of the Messiah. In verse 25 it says that Simeon was “looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.” Jesus, the Messiah, is the consolation of Israel.
In verse 37 it says that Anna virtually never left the temple and was serving the Lord “with fastings and prayers.” In other words, she was like Simeon—she was longing for the Messiah to come; she was fasting and praying night and day because she was looking for “the redemption of Jerusalem.”
In verse 38 she comes at just the right moment to see the Messiah-child, and she gives thanks to God and speaks of him to all who were “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” In other words God gave a special glimpse of the King’s glory to those who were yearning and longing and looking for “the redemption of Jerusalem.” For Anna that meant a life of fasting decade after decade—probably 60 years since her husband died—as she ministered in the temple.
I think one of the reasons Luke tells us about Simeon and Anna is to illustrate how holy and devout people respond to the promise of Christ’s coming. And how God responds to their longings. They see more than others see. They may not understand fully all the details about how the Messiah is coming—Simeon and Anna surely didn’t—but God mercifully gives them a glimpse before they die, of what they so passionately wanted to see.