. . . awaiting the consolation of Israel.

“There goes young Simeon up to the Temple mount again,” a bystander comments. “Every day he prays for the Messiah and the rescue of Israel.” Another replies, “He has youthful zeal. But we’ll see how long that lasts.” Years pass, along with Simeon’s youth. How many questions must have crossed his mind and crept into his heart? No doubt he prayed Psalm 77: “Has God’s promise come to an end?” But Simeon did not give in to doubt. Even more, he didn’t stop persisting in prayer in the place where he had heard God’s promise that “he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah” (Luke 2:26).

Finally the day arrived, and what did the old man see? Did the Lord’s Anointed advance on Jerusalem in splendor at the head of a mighty army? Far from it! Simeon saw a young family, easy to overlook as they picked their way among the crowds. How did he know? Simeon, familiar with God’s voice after long years of prayer, heard the Holy Spirit: This is the One.

Simeon’s faithfulness and perseverance in prayer can be a model for us. For most of his life, it seemed that his prayers were not answered, yet he returned to the Temple day after day. In fact, God was working in him, strengthening him and teaching him to recognize the voice of the Spirit.

Sometimes we can be waiting for long stretches before we experience a consolation of some kind. It can be difficult to keep waiting and trusting when that happens. That’s when we can look to Simeon’s example of showing up faithfully, day in, day out, whether we see God answering our prayers or not. Like Simeon, we can trust that God is at work in quiet ways, in the small but powerful workings of grace. Over time, we will become more open to the Holy Spirit, better able to receive his gifts and act upon his promptings.

Even when things seem impossible, when God seems absent, prayer is a gift from God. There, he opens us up to hear the Holy Spirit and teaches us to recognize his work in the world around us, just as Simeon recognized the Christ in a baby.

“Holy Spirit, help me to persist in prayer and learn to hear your voice.”

1 John 2:3-11
Psalm 96:1-3, 5-6
Luke 2:22-35


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