Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
September 5th, 2021

Excerpt from
A Pocketful of Sundays

"For when we cannot find the words to pray properly, the Spirit expresses our plea." Rom.8:26

Prayer is not a matter of having the "right" words or formulae, or even of communicating with God. We may be accustomed to relying on words in our prayer, but there is nothing we can say that God doesn't already know. Prayer is about communing with God, that is, sharing at a heart-to-heart level that goes much deeper than communication skills or dexterity with words. If we make ourselves available to God at all times and not just at "prayer time," then the Spirit will pray in us ceaselessly, bringing to the surface those feelings and concerns we might otherwise overlook. At rest in God's heart, all we have to do is "be." No words are necessary.


  • Do you consciously listen for "God's Voice" or do you follow your own whims and inclinations?

  • What helps you "open" to God's Word? Conversely, what types of situations keep you "closed"?

  • Do you have any physical limitations which hold you captive? If so, what resources might help you find greater freedom?

  • What keeps you from proclaiming God's Word and what is the message that only YOU can deliver?

Greetings, SBT Readers!

Sorry for this very late issue of SBT -- I was out of town and my laptop refused to cooperate with the hotel's wifi. I think it meant for me to take a few moments to breathe -- which I did!

Many Blessings!


People brought to him a deaf man with a speech impediment, begging him to lay hands on him.
Jesus took him away from the crowd, then put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue. Looking up to heaven, he groaned, saying,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
Immediately, the man’s ears opened, his speech
impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. 
Mk 7:31-37

This week, my Professional Writing Class at SXU will continue examining the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), specifically as it relates to individuals with sight, hearing or speech impediments and the accommodations that businesses, institutions and organizations need to provide. My students have discovered that these accommodations are more complex than those addressing mobility issues. It is one thing to adjust the width of doorways, the height of desks, and to ensure there are strategically placed ramps and elevators—the mandatory specifications for building construction or remodeling work in the majority of situations. In contrast, the accommodations for those with sensory limitations need to be adjusted for each individual. A person with sight limitations may or may not use Braille, may or may not require special technology; and may or may not require a note taker/ reader. Similarly, someone with hearing limitations may or may not require a “signer”; may or may not require voice to text technology; and may or may not require hearing devices to supplement personal hearing aids. And an individual with a speech impediment will similarly require a range of possible interventions.

In our discussions, we have focused on the importance of the ADA and how it has been “life-changer” for those with disabilities of any kind. Before the Act was passed in 1990, those with disabilities were excluded from many aspects of everyday life, from work to play, from entertainment to travel, from education to worship... For many, “staying home” was the safest option but this meant social isolation and a lack of agency – that is, the ability to dream, to contribute, to engage in meaningful activities and communication. What the ADA and its various revisions have accomplished, then, is to liberate those with disabilities from exclusion so that, to the extent possible, they can live full, active and purposeful lives.

Today’s readings reveal a God who could have been the Drafter of the ADA's Regulations for Effective Communication. In Isaiah 35, 4-7a, we learn that one of the signs of God’s coming would be the healing of those with disabilities:
“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
      the ears of the deaf be cleared;
   then will the lame leap like a stag,
      then the tongue of the mute will sing.”
This theme is reflected in the responsorial psalm (Ps 146:6-10):
“The LORD sets captives free…
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.”

And, finally, there is the Gospel narrative of Jesus’ healing of the man who can neither hear nor speak.

But while physical healing sets people free from the captivity of their disabilities, the Gospel for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time also challenges us to look at what "being open" might mean spiritually speaking. Just as Jesus' command, “Ephphatha!” opens the deaf man's ears, so that same command asks us to be open to God's Word. Do we listen from the heart or are we selective listeners, hearing only what reinforces our world view and supposedly keeps us safe? Are we "open" to God's Will or do we stubbornly pursue our own plans without a thought as to where God might be calling us?Similarly, are we "open" to God's message or do we keep our mouths firmly "zipped," ignoring our baptismal calling to be prophetic witnesses? To be "closed" is to be impervious to grace; to be "open" is to welcome the free-flow of the Spirit which blows where it wills, summoning us to be bolder, braver, more creative, more imaginative, more articulate for the sake of the Kingdom! When we neither see nor hear nor speak about the communications of the Spirit, then we become captives of our own paltry agendas and victims of our own mediocrity.
Check out my Resiliency Assessment Tool on the home page of my new website:

Try my Spiritual Self-Assessment Tool! After you take the Quiz, you will auto-matically receive a computer-generated analysis of your strengths and "growing edges."

Please note that I offer Writing Coaching/ Editing, in addition to Life Coaching, Spiritual Direction, and Retreats.
This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. During COVID-19, sessions are by phone or on Zoom; I am also available to facilitate "virtual" retreats for groups and individuals.
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | |

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,