“So [Zacchaeus] ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.” Luke 19:4
In my prayer the other day, I was reading in the gospel of Luke about the tax collector, Zacchaeus. One of the verses grabbed my attention: “So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way” (Luke 19:4). What struck me was how Zacchaeus put himself in the path of Jesus. He ran ahead of the crowd, quickly surveyed the situation to see where he could get a good view of Jesus and climbed a tree knowing that since he was short of stature, the crowd would have blocked his view of the Lord passing by. That took effort, maneuvering and speed on the part of Zacchaeus. And Jesus honored that and responded to the desires in Zacchaeus’s heart to be healed, forgiven and freed.
As I was reflecting on that, I thought, “That’s what prayer is in its essence” — getting away from the crowd and placing ourselves along the route where Jesus will pass by.
From conversations I’ve had over the years, people often wonder what to do in prayer and how can they advance in prayer. Sometimes it’s good to go back to the essentials, where things get distilled and simplified. Prayer, at its heart, is putting ourselves in the path of Jesus where He will walk by.
Just like Jesus honored that desire in Zacchaeus’s heart and singled him out of the whole crowd to eat dinner with him, so the Lord honors the efforts we make to put ourselves in His path. He sees the deepest desires of our hearts — even those desires that we are not fully conscious of — and He responds generously, answering our deepest longings and needs.
- wake up a little early each morning to spend some time in quiet prayer before the day gets busy
- stop in at a church for a few minutes to greet the Lord
- sign up for a holy hour if your local parish has Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
- pause briefly throughout your day to check in with God
As we find creative ways to place ourselves in the path of the Lord like Zacchaeus did, God honors our efforts and does things in our hearts that we might not even be aware of at the time. But we will see the fruits later as we see our lives and relationships changed and improved.
So let’s not overcomplicate prayer. It can be as ordinary as climbing a tree.