Anna, the Prophetess

Yesterday, I wrote about Simeon, who was inspired to be at the temple when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus, and who recognized Him as the Savior by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Immediately afterward, another individual had a similar experience. Anna didn’t have to be inspired to come to the temple. Luke tells us that she “departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:37). But when she saw the baby Jesus, like Simeon, she knew who He was, and she “instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord.” Thereafter, she “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

Luke calls Anna “a prophetess,” and President Dallin H. Oaks concurs:

Anna and Simeon were eyewitnesses to the infant, but, just like the Apostles, their knowledge of his divine mission came through the witness of the Holy Ghost. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10.) Therefore, we can properly say that when each received this witness, Simeon was a prophet and Anna was a prophetess. Each then fulfilled the prophetic duty to testify to those around them. As Peter said, “To [Christ] give all the prophets witness.” (Acts 10:43.) This was what Moses meant when he expressed the wish “that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29.)

“Witnesses of Christ,” General Conference, October 1990

President Oaks compared Anna’s experience with Lamoni’s wife, the queen of the Lamanites, who made the following spontaneous and heartfelt declaration after being overpowered by the Spirit:

O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell! O blessed God, have mercy on this people!

Alma 19:29

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are accustomed to calling the president of the Church “the prophet.” This title conveys both the respect we feel for him and our conviction that he speaks on behalf of God. But we also recognize other uses of the term. For example, we sustain the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as “prophets, seers, and revelators.” More broadly, as President Oaks indicated above, a prophet is anyone who has received a spiritual witness that Jesus is the Christ and is therefore obligated to share that witness with others.

President Russell M. Nelson has taught:

Every woman and every man who makes covenants with God and keeps those covenants, and who participates worthily in priesthood ordinances, has direct access to the power of God….

The heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood.

Spiritual Treasures,” October 2019

Today, I will strive to follow the example of Anna in seeking for guidance and power from God. I will spend time in holy places, and I will listen for the voice of the Spirit to confirm spiritual truths. I will remember that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Like Anna and like Lamoni’s wife, I will declare my testimony of Him.

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