“Evening, morning and noon, I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17).
Prayer in Judaism is defined as the work of the heart, which profoundly changes the nature of prayer from one of entreating God to an act that transforms who we are — not what God does.
Since grade school, through fire drills and other practices, most of us have been trained on what to do in case of an emergency.
Many office buildings today, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11, routinely practice emergency drills.
And families, too, have created their own plans detailing escape routes and meeting places in the event of a crisis.
But what’s our plan when it comes to the types of emergencies we can’t avoid simply by planning an escape route?
How do we cope with situations like betrayals, false accusations, broken relationships, devastating losses or illnesses?
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In Psalm 55, David was facing an emergency situation. His words express the depth of his despair: “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught because of what my enemy is saying” (v. 2–3); and “My heart is in anguish within me … Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me” (v. 4–5).
Some biblical scholars believe this psalm was written during the time of the rebellion of Absalom (David’s son), and certainly the emotions expressed in verses 13–14 point to the betrayal of person close to David: “But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, close friend.”
So what did David do?
How did he cope with such emotional pain and distress?
David’s “emergency drill” was to pray “evening, morning and noon” (v. 17).
He turned to God in his despair, confident that God would hear his prayers and deliver him: “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me” (v. 16).
Praying continually throughout the day is not only a good idea during the difficult times in our lives; it’s also a good way to keep our priorities straight throughout the day.
Certainly, we see this modeled for us elsewhere in Bible, where men like Daniel and Nehemiah prayed continually for God’s wisdom and guidance in their daily lives.
No matter what we may be facing today, through the words of King David, we are invited to “cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (v. 22).
That’s an emergency drill worth practicing all the time.
Yael Eckstein is president of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded in 1983; she oversees all ministry programs and serves as the international spokesperson. Based in Jerusalem with her husband and their four children, she is a published writer and a respected social services professional. She has contributed to The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel and is the author of two books, “Holy Land Reflections: A Collection of Inspirational Insights from Israel” and “Spiritual Cooking with Yael.” The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel.