Study 1 SIMEON’S PRAYER FOR RELEASE
GREAT PRAYERS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Luke 2: 29-32
To gain the full significance of Simeon’s prayer it is necessary to read Luke 2:21-35. Simeon’s prayer for release is contained in verses 29-32 and it is important to notice that this was not a prayer like Elijah’s when he was depressed and discouraged (1 Kings 19:4). Simeon was joyful and filled with thanksgiving because God had fulfilled His word, the Messiah had actually come, and he had seen Him and embraced Him; for this tiny baby which he held in his arms was the Son of God Himself, the Saviour of the world – “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (verse 32). Recognising that God had fulfilled His promise, Simeon prayed his remarkable prayer. To understand the beauty of it we must first look at the man Simeon.
1. SIMEON’S PERSONAL PIETY
What kind of man was he? The answer is in Luke 2:25-27 where we are told four things which mark him as a pious and a godly man:-
- (1) He was a righteous man. We see this in verse 25 and it refers to his testimony before others. He was known as a man who was honest, upright, sincere, reliable, and truthful, a man of integrity. How well qualified he was to pray effectively! – look up and compare James 5:16.
- (2) He was a devout man. The word ‘righteous’ is the human aspect of his life; the word ‘devout’ is the God-ward aspect, because it speaks of his relationship with the Lord. His life was pleasing to Him because he was living in fellowship, on speaking terms, and in submission to Him.
- (3) He was a Spirit-controlled man. In this short section of Scripture three references are made to Simeon’s personal experience of the Holy Spirit (verses 25-27). He was Spirit-filled, Spirit-enlightened and Spirit-led. This should be true of every Christian and our lives should be under the control and the immediate direction of the Holy Spirit. This is what Ephesians 5:18 means and is a necessary qualification if we are to pray effectively.
- (4) He was living in anticipation of the Lord’s coming. Simeon waited for the Saviour’s first coming (verse 25); and you and I should be doing the same thing in relation to His second coming. Simeon knew that the Lord would come because it had been revealed to him (verse 26). And it has been revealed to us throughout the Bible, in prophecies, in promises, in predictions and in parables. All these clearly state that Jesus is coming again and we should be in the attitude of waiting for His return – look up John 14:3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 John 3:1-3.
2. SIMEON’S REMARKABLE PRAYER
Look at verses 28-32 where there is such wealth of detail that we should consider each word or phrase. What do we learn about Simeon’s prayer?
- (1) It commenced with worship (verses 27-28). Simeon “praised God”. He did not begin with petition or confession but with adoration. This is how we should begin to pray – look up and compare Exodus 3:5.
- (2) It acknowledged God’s sovereignty; verse 29 tells us that Simeon began his prayer with the words “Sovereign Lord”, recognising God’s greatness and authority and that he was only His servant, a slave.
- (3) It recognised God’s working; in verse 29 Simeon said, “as you have promised” – ‘At last the thing I’ve been waiting for has happened! Jesus has come, so now give me release from the body!’ There’s no hint of any fear of death – but why should there be? Look up 1 Corinthians 15:53-57.
- (4) It included the element of submission; in verse 29 again Simeon prayed, “Sovereign Lord…you now dismiss your servant…” He could not go just when he decided he would – and nor can we, for our times are in God’s hands – look up Psalm 31:15 and compare Luke 23:46.
- (5) It was a humble prayer; in verse 29 Simeon acknowledged he was God’s ‘servant’, one who waited to do the will of his master, but weak, unworthy and indeed unprofitable – look up Luke 17:10.
- (6) It was a prayer for peaceful dismissal. Before we are ready to be with Christ we must know what it is to have peace with God (Romans 5:1); then we will experience God’s peace filling our hearts (Philippians 4:7).
- (7) It rested on God’s promise; in effect he prayed, ‘Lord, you promised I would not depart until I had seen the Saviour. Now I have seen Him. Let me go, as you promised!’ This is the way to pray, in faith and with assurance. See Genesis 21:1; 50:24; Joshua 21:45; Hebrews 10:23.
- (8) It explains why he was ready to die (verses 28 and 30). He had received Christ, embraced Him, seen Him and confessed Him – and He was ready.
- (9) It declares the true nature of salvation. First, that salvation is not a creed, system or denomination; it’s a Person. Christ is the embodiment of God’s salvation (Acts 4:12). Second, that it is a long-prepared salvation (verse 31) – compare Revelation 13:8; Galatians 4:4. Third, that it is for everybody (verse 31) – look up John 3:16. Fourth, that Christ has to be personally appropriated – verse 30 makes this clear.
- (10) It reveals remarkable discernment. Verse 32 tells us Simeon was discerning, because Jesus came first to the Jews and not to the Gentiles; and yet in the purpose of God the Jews rejected Him, and He became first of all “a light for revelation to the Gentiles”, and we now await the time when He will be “for glory to your people Israel” (verse 32).
3. SIMEON’S SOLEMN PROPHECY
Look at verses 33-35. Simeon blessed them and said two things:-
- (1) He gave a prophecy about Christ Himself (verse 34), that He would be the One who would divide men and nations according to their attitude towards Him. (Matthew 12:30; John 7:43).
- (2) He gave a prophecy about the anguish of Calvary (verse 35; John 19:25).
In concluding this study notice that, having begun his great prayer with blessing God (verse 28), Simeon finished his prayer by blessing others (verse 34).