It is a story of intrigue at the royal palace in Persia. The pagan king, angry at his queen, deposed her and put Esther, a Jewish woman, in her place. Meanwhile a powerful member of the royal court had concocted a plot to have the king in a single day kill all the Jews living in Persia. The date for this massacre was chosen by casting lots - which is why Purim is sometimes called the "Feast of Lots."
Esther decided to go to the king and plead for her people. In doing so she risked her life, for to enter the king's presence uninvited was punishable by death. She went ahead anyway and succeeded in saving her people.
Before entering the king's presence she said a prayer:
My Lord, you alone are God. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand. Be mindful of me, O Lord. Give me courage. Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion, and help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O Lord.
- Little Black Book, Diocese of Saginaw