As Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Luke 18:35–39
This beautiful story of the healing of this blind man, named Bartimaeus in the Gospel of Mark, sets for us a model of how we must come to Jesus in prayer. Bartimaeus and his encounter with Christ is an icon upon which we must meditate so as to imitate him in his weakness, openness, confidence and perseverance.
To begin, this “blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.” We must see this as an ideal image of how to begin our prayer. When we start to pray, we must see our littleness, weakness and extreme poverty in our spiritual life. We come to God with nothing. Unable to see. A beggar. And one who is incapable of meeting our own spiritual needs. This is Bartimaeus, and this must be the way we come to our Lord in prayer. Sometimes we can fall into the illusion that our prayers are so elevated and pious that God must be very impressed. If that’s your struggle, then you are more like the Pharisees. This blind man, however, is the ideal to aim for. So when you begin your prayer, come to our Lord as a spiritually poor and needy beggar.
In this state of humility, just as it happened in this Gospel story, you can be certain that “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” So as you sit in your humble and needy state, wait and be attentive to Jesus passing by. Wait upon His gentle voice, His quiet inspiration, His calming and unmistakable presence.
If you can humble yourself this way and then sense our Lord’s divine presence touching you in some way, then further imitate Bartimaeus by calling out interiorly, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The cry from the depths of your heart in prayer must come as a result of Jesus “passing by.” It must be a response to Him coming to you on His own. As Jesus passes by, spiritually speaking, He waits for you to call to Him. He desires that you call to Him. And He desires that you do it with firm confidence and perseverance.
Notice that as this blind beggar cried out, there were obstacles put in his way. The people “rebuked him, telling him to be silent.” But even this was a gift, because it enabled Bartimaeus to cry out all the more. So also with us, when obstacles arise in our prayer, such as distractions, temptations, a lack of consolation, or any other challenge to our prayer, we must see these obstacles as hurdles that must be overcome. Doing so will deepen our union with Jesus, turning that apparent obstacle into a source of blessing.
Reflect, today, upon these four aspects of a deep prayer life that are presented to us through the witness of this blind beggar. First, ponder your weakness and poverty as you turn to God in prayer. Second, be attentive to the presence of God as He passes by, waiting for you to call to Him. Third, cry out to Him and beg Him to come closer. And fourth, work to overcome every obstacle to prayer and see those obstacles as opportunities to call out to God all the more.
My compassionate Lord, I come to You in my weakness and poverty, I come in need of Your divine touch and healing. As You do pass by, I acknowledge Your presence and call to You. Jesus, please do come to me, have pity on me. Help me to overcome every obstacle to Your love and to trust in You always, never wavering from my commitment to You. Jesus, I trust in You.