God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1
The next two reflections will come from Psalm 46. Today’s is the first verse. It reminds us that God is our refuge and our strength, both in good times and in difficult ones. 
Many people have go-to things that they utilize in times of crisis. Some people drink alcohol. Others eat excessively. Others go to ice cream. Others binge watch television. Some brood quietly. Others are grouchy. Where to you go in times of trouble?
The best place to go in time of trouble is to your knees. The best thing to do when you are in a crisis is to get on your knees and pray to God. In times of distress, we tend to get scared. Sometimes we overreact. Sometimes our emotions cloud our reason and we find ourselves acting unreasonably. Prayer is the great antidote to all of these things. Prayer helps lessen fear. Prayer slows us down long enough for us to think through better what we are doing. And prayer helps our emotional state. Why? Because when we join ourselves to God in prayer, and when we receive and accept His grace, it uplifts us, inspires us, and leads us to more proper conduct and better decisions. 
I love the analogy of sitting on one side of a door and God is on the other side of the door. The thing is that there is only a doorknob on our side of the door. God is knocking. However, He doesn’t force His way in. He waits for the invitation. God is constantly knocking on the door of our hearts, especially in times of difficulty. In our times of struggle, He is very present, waiting outside the door of our hearts, for us to invite Him in. When we open our hearts to God, when we open the door and let Him in, when we rely on Him instead of on earthly and material things, then He becomes the refuge and strength that we need. 
Wherever life finds you today, whether it is a good day or a tough day, lean on God as your refuge and strength. Open your heart to Him in prayer. The words we say in prayer are not as important as that we offer words to God. He won’t grade prayers that aren’t filled with large words. We are not expected to pray like theologians. Prayer is simply opening your heart to God, opening the door and asking Him to fill you with His grace, with His wisdom, with whatever you need to face whatever challenge you face. 
Lord, thank You for the gift of today. Be my refuge and strength, in whatever this day is going to bring me. Help me to face each challenge with You. Come into my heart and give me peace, wisdom, understanding, patience and everything I will need to get through the day today. Thank You for being my refuge in times of trouble. Help me to always remember You grace and mercy. Amen.
Don’t forget to pray today!


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here: https://amzn.to/3nVPY5M


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