In Case of Emergency

The Fellowship  |  August 23, 2019

Elderly Jewish woman in Israel praying

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. Our devotions are focused on different facets of prayer and what lessons we can learn about the power of our prayers. For more inspirational teachings about prayer, download our complimentary study.

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 plans detailing escape routes and a meeting place in the event of a crisis.

But what’s our plan when it comes to those types of emergencies that 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?

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”  (vv.4–5).

Some biblical scholars believe this psalm was written during the time of Absalom’s rebellion (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, but also is 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.

Discover more about the Jewish perspective of prayer in our complimentary Bible study, Prayer: The Work of the Heart.