Today we start a section on worshipful prayer in the New Testament by looking at one of the most beautiful and joyful passages in the entire Bible. Elizabeth and Mary were women whose lives were undergoing massive tumult as the result of divine activity. When these two cousins met, they worshiped God.
Mary departed quickly to visit Elizabeth, giving the impression that there had been time for little or no communication before she arrived in Judea. One can imagine Mary wondering how on earth she was going to tell her elderly cousin that she was going to bear the Messiah. It must have been an incredible blessing when, prompted by the leaping baby in her own belly, Elizabeth confirmed everything the angel Gabriel had told Mary.
Often called the Magnificat or Mary’s Song, Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s greeting has been repeated in Christian worship for centuries. Mary’s words echo Scripture, drawing deeply from the language and theology of the Psalms and providing a parallel to Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2. Mary’s praise begins with her own experience, but quickly links this with God’s character and actions in the past and then with His promises regarding the future. Instead of focusing on the child she was to bear, Mary focused on the Father who was working this miracle within her.
Mary’s worshipful song is exemplary. We can see Mary’s familiarity with Scripture and her spirit’s joyful submission to God’s will. She also demonstrates the posture of worship—looking beyond one’s own experience to focus on the big picture of what God is doing. In this case, she looked beyond her own impending parenthood to the good news Jesus Himself would bear.