Elul — week 1 — the season of self-examination
Week 11, year 2!(Sunday-Shabbat)
Tomorrow, Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 is the 1st of Elul, 5772. The Talmud writes that the Hebrew acronym for Elul can be expanded to translate: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” Song of Songs 6:3. We are His beloved and indeed He is ours!
The 40 days from the 1st of Elul (Rosh Chodesh Elul) to Yom Kippur is traditionally a time of spiritual preparation and self-examination for the High Holy Days of Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur. Though it is not a Biblical holiday, it is important that we all examine our hearts and prepare ourselves for His upcoming Holy Days.
Many of us feel we live our lives pretty well. We are basically honest and upright citizens. Of course, we are quick to note that life has not always been fair with us; but, nevertheless, we are decent people. But is this enough? Do we let pride interfere with our service to G-d?
We all need to carefully examine our lives and our actions. Some maintain that the month before Rosh haShanah gives us time to carefully examine our hearts and actions. We have time to make those changes step-by-step.
Below is a story that wonderfully illustrates a tender heart of humility:
A Tzaddik's Repentance*
By Tuvia Bolton
“More than 1000 years ago lived a great and holy leader and teacher called Rabbi Saadia Gaon (892?-942). The Gaon (as the leading Sages of Babylonia Jewry were titled at the time) had many hundreds of pupils and all of them had a great thirst to learn. Even a casual movement or word from their revered teacher provided them a lesson for life.
“One winter morning, two of his pupils happened to be walking in the mountains when they heard a strange sound on the other side of a hill. When they approached the summit they saw, to their great surprise, their master sitting on the snow-covered ground, weeping, praying and engaging in other acts of penitence. What could a tzaddik (perfectly righteous person) such as their teacher possibly need to repent for? Could he have committed some sin, G-d forbid? They hurriedly departed from that place. But later that day, they could no longer restrain themselves and asked their teacher what the scene they had witnessed had been about.
"I do that every day," he said to them. "Every day I repent and plead with G-d to forgive my shortcomings and failings in my service of Him."
"Your failings?" they asked. "Of what failings does the Gaon speak?"
"Let me tell you a story," said Rabbi Saadia. "Something that happened to me a while ago."
"At one point in my life I decided that all the honor and attention I was receiving from everyone around me was interfering with my service of the Creator. G-d must be served with joy, and without complete humility, joy is impossible. So I decided that I would spend several months in a place where no one recognized me."
"I dressed in simple garments and began my self-imposed exile, wandering from town to town. One night I was in a small inn run by an old Jew. He was a very kind and simple man, and we spoke for a while before I went to sleep. Early the next morning, after I had prayed shacharit (the morning prayer), I bade him farewell and was again on my way.
"What I didn't know was that several of my pupils had been searching for me, and several hours after I left the inn they appeared, hot on my trail. 'Did you see Rabbi Saadia Gaon?' they asked him, 'We have reason to believe that he was here.'
"'Saadia Gaon?' replied the bewildered old Jew. 'What would the great Rav Saadia be doing in a place like mine? Rav Saadia Gaon in my inn? No… I'm sure that you are very mistaken! There was no Rav Saadia Gaon here!'
"But when the young men described me to him and explained about my exile and 'disguise', the old Jew grabbed his head and cried: 'Oy! Rav Saadia! Rav Saadia was here! You are right! Oy, Oy!' and he ran outside, jumped into his wagon and began urging his horse to go as fast as possible in the direction I had taken.
"After a short time he caught up to me, jumped from his carriage and fell at my feet weeping: 'Please forgive me, Rav Saadia. Please forgive me, I didn't know that it was you!'
"I made him stand up and brush himself off, and then said to him: 'But my dear friend, you treated me very well, you were very kind and hospitable. Why are you so sorry? You have nothing to apologize for.'
"'No, no, Rabbi,' he replied. 'If I would have known who you are, I would have served you completely differently!'
"Suddenly I realized that this man was teaching me a very important lesson in the service of G-d, and that the purpose of my exile had been fulfilled. I thanked and blessed him and returned home.
"Since then, every evening when I say the prayer before sleeping I go over in my mind how I served G-d that day. Then I think of that old innkeeper, and say to myself: 'Oy! If I had known about G-d in the beginning of the day what I know now, I would have served Him completely differently!'
"And that is what I was repenting for this morning."
Photo: ‘The Rabbi’ Painted by Fenna Moehn Hummel
“Precious Father. Thank You for bringing us to another special season before You. Help each of us to take this time to prepare – to trim our wicks – so that we will be prepared spiritually for Your High Holy Days. Help us to keep our hearts tender before You in all we do. Thank You for this week of interceding for the many families who are going thru struggles. We pray You continue to touch them – heal them spiritually, emotionally, and physically. We pray You turn them fully to You – ambush them with Your love. Be with our soldiers. We continue to stand against all ills attempting to harass them and their families. Bless our volunteer prayer army. Thank You for helping each of us to get out of debt by the end of 2012. Be with the Israeli believers. Bless them. Give them favor. Bring Your peace to J’lem. In Your hesed (loving kindness), we pray.”
Read what He is doing this year through prayer!
1. Family members are opening to the Word and prayer!
2. Olympic Runner Paul Ryan: announces God is his coach
3. Gabby Douglas: gives God glory for her Olympic gold medals in gymnastics.
4. Many little signs of His involvement in various situations all week – He is continuing to move – and we get to be part!!!!! Yes, we are His elite soldiers!
5. Jeff (Paul & Lynn’s son): GRE tests went very well!
6. Betty: job!
7. Frank: trip went very well.
8. Jeannette: camping was trip great with unexpected blessings.
9. Sylvia Powell (friend of Jeannette): family adjusting well without her.
10. Suzi (Jeannette’s friend): recovering from knee replacement – pray for continued healing.
11. Hawkins (soldier friend of Natan’s who was hurt in explosion in Afghanistan): he is doing well.
12. Infant Maxwell (parents are missionaries to Poland): 10 weeks old and over 12 pounds. Still tired and sleeps nearly all day, but nursing well. Pray his heart shows improvement, so he can go off meds. The family is “forever and a day grateful that you prayed for his life!”
13. Norman G: finished back taxes!
14. Natan & Chantell found a house to rent – please pray this will be an easy & quick move for them, as they have to be out of the small apt by the 1st! (No time for PTSD this weekend!)
15. Bonnie: huge blessing regarding work hours.
16. Maxine: pain-free
17. Maxine & Joe: trip was fantastic
18. Marita: “Prayer Tools on your website is very popular.” It is being read in Israel, South Africa & France and is being translated into Spanish!!! May His Word continue to go forth!
19. Brian (Paul): received the Lord! Pray Brian’s wife, who is in hospice, will also receive the Lord.
20. Men’s meeting: good food; great fellowship; interesting discussion. – if you’re a guy, don’t miss the next meeting!
21. Operation Jericho answers are coming!
22. David (Bev & Ruben): went to detox. Pray for total deliverance.
23. Lori received medical report showing improvement!! Pray for 100% healing.
24. Natan came home 3 weeks ago! Thank you for your prayers for his safety and continued prayers for his re-entry into family life.
25. Jim received an excellent report from doctor!!!
26. Cecelia (Yvonne’s 12-year old niece): her body was ravaged by cancer! Showing signs of progress – believing for total healing.Pray for her total healing – is in ICU for dialysis
27. Bonnie: mechanical miracle with medical device – huge blessing!
28. God again spared Natan and others from insidious attacks by the enemy – an explosion was only 40 meters away. (As Natan put it, had it been closer it would have been a ‘bad day’!)
29. Quinton (Art’s grandson): born healthy!
30. Family reunions continue to occur – pray that they will all be joyous!! To date, good reports from all reunions!!
31. Lori (Norman G’s daughter): approval at new job. Please pray for housing.
32. Pamela and Norman: have work – hallelujah! Let us pray they have divine appointments– & full schedules!
33. Friend (Dawn): Court ruled earthly justice. Pray for emotional and spiritual healing for all.
34. Bonnie: family visit was excellent
35. Don: trip for his mom’s 90th bday was terrific!
36. Les’a: unexpected financial blessing (insurance company suddenly paid 100% of $219 vaccine, which previously they would said they would not!) TYL! – let us continue to pray we will all be debt-free, except for housing, by the end of 2012.
37. Lynn Mann: continued healing from foot surgery.
Listen to what our LORD did last year!!
1. He has miraculously saved lives physically and spiritually.
2. He has healed many from surgeries and sicknesses.
3. He intervened and a 7-week premature baby was born healthy and continues to thrive a year later.
4. He is mending many, manyfamily relationships.
5. He opened doors where there were none.
6. He has provided many with employment.
7. He has touched finances.
8. He has protected our soldier.
9. He has taught us to be consistent and persevering in prayer.
Prayer: Are we willing to continue your commitment to praying 15 minutes a dayfor a year? Reminder: Don’t forget even baby steps are answers!
· Bev & Ruben: traveling blessings & open doors
· Son (John): divorce and custody, know the God of his father
· John: medication will be effective without side effects
· Families: please pray that God will intervene and bring His peace and righteousness to these families.
· Sister (Yvonne): urgent prayers regarding her desire to live, placement in rehab facility.Protection for husband, child, and family.
· Natan: TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury; serious concussions) & PTSD from explosions he was in during his 3 deployments in 4 years. Doctor also said if soldier has PTSD, so does his family. Please pray for Natan, Chantell, and their 2 sons for total healing.
· Ray & Sharon (Directors & Founders of Christian Friends of Israel): home broken into and many items stolen or broken
· Uncle (Deb): cancer
· Father (Deb): seek medical needed medical assistance to be able to regain mobility
· Deb: joyful and fulfilling trip
· Friends and family (Deb): close relationship with the Messiah
· Rhonda: stress & car issues.
· Unspoken: spiritual battles. Pray that His love & truth will prevail.
· Pamela: job direction
· Leonard (Phyllis’ bro) removed lymph nodes were cancerous. After his staples are removed, chemo again – 6 weeks on 2 weeks off for 6 to 8 months. Further surgery to remove remaining lymph nodes in the rectal area. Please keep him on The Call to Prayer!
· Art: family reunion to be God-centered.
· Lori: God’s intervention and total resolution.
· Bob Hart (Les’a & Don): healing.
· Bev & Ruben: wisdom and direction
· Krinskys: home will sell quickly.
· Bonnie: work comes early in the week – with no technical difficulties.
· Prayers for our country and revival.
· Nathan (Jeannette’s son in law): encouragement and support as he works with patients.
· Brenan (Jeannette’s grandson): healing for heel and foot pain.
· Jeannette: find the right house that meets all their needs.
· Prayers for victims and their families in the heinous movie theater shootingin Aurora, CO.
· Prayer for victims and their families of the heinous acts of terror against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.
· Tere: 2-year legal proceeding regarding mother’s care to come to a close quickly. And with a positive outcome.
· Phyllis & Maxine: pain-free, energy, and vitality.
· Maxine & Joe: traveling mercies – fantastic trip to see family.
· Family (Jeannette): camping trip – safety, protection, quality family time.
· Tsilla (Debbie): depression
· Ramon (Krinskys): prostate issues
· Natan: PTSD – transition home and all will quickly “be on the same page”
· Jordan (Les’a & Don): Navy Boot Camp – prayer for him & his family.
· PJ & Tracy: unspoken
· Frank: traveling mercies and blessings on his travels
· Kyle (Yvonne’s son): heart to the Lord – heaviness of depression to lift.
· Sylvia (Jeannette): passed away – prayer for family
· Jim & Bobbie (Les’a): his side was crushed by falling load from a fork lift. Please pray for total healing & they can quickly find a place to move into.
· Matthew (Frank): in rehab. Pray for deliverance and new friends.
· Pamela & Norman: finances. That we ALL will be debt-free by 12/31/2012!
· Debbie & Dennis (& us all!!): God will lead and guide our footsteps and use us to minister to others.
· Another family reunion: joyous time of togetherness
· Group in Yellowstone: prayer to break strongholds over the area.
· Prayer for our soldiers: spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally whole!
· Joe, Jim, John, Maxine: healing head-to-toe
· New jobs: favor and wisdom
· Mace Bravin: election for Pima County School Superintendent. That righteous men & women will be elected.
· Cynthia: lawsuit against her parents and their food bank ministry. Pray suit will be dropped & healing will result.
· Isabel Mercedes Celis (6-year old Tucson girl who was abducted April 21): pray for safety and return to her family.
Families (all of our families):
- To be whole and walk in the ways of the Lord!
- God to continue strengthening and building family relationships!
- Josiah D: favor, protection & a heart like King David.
- God would bring godly helpmates and partners in ministry: T (Les’a & Don’s friend & a man of God), Cynthia, etc.
- Marita (in Israel): prayer for total healing from kidney stones. She does much for the Kingdom!
- Jeff & Paul (Paul & Lynn Mann): healing from knee surgeries.
- Krys (Les’a’s co-worker’s husband): serious problems caused by Parkinson's.
- Susie (Bonnie): from previous cervical fusion, one of the screws started migrating and was pushing at her esophagus threatening a puncture. Had surgery Thursday. Prayer for recovery and acceptance of Jesus.
- Bud (Tracy’s father): 2 tumors, and another one that is pre-cancerous.
- Bonnie: healing with oxygen levels.
- Christopher & Liz (Maxine): she has ovarian cancer, resulting in financial problems. Pray for encouragement.
- Bob & Pat (Maxine & Joe): healing.
- Jeanne (Bonnie’s friend): stage 4 ovarian cancer. Salvation and healing with the understanding it was God Who healed her.
- Rudy (Les’a’s friend): cracked skull resulting in major mental complications.
Call to Prayer intercessors:
- Debt-free by the end of 2012!
- Intercessors for The Call To Prayer: wisdom and tenacity to continue on to see victory!
- Favor & wisdom in the work force: We would be excellent in the work place – even as Joseph, Daniel, etc. were – blessings to the companies because we are there!
- Deb and all those who not listed.
- God will give them fulfilling & rewarding employment where they will have great favor!
Relationship with our Lord:
- 5 grandchildren (Debbie & Dennis): to know the salvation and love of Yeshua.
- Crystal Barton (Paul & Lynn Mann): in hospice – prayer for salvation decision. And strength for husband.
- David (Bev & Ruben): his mom’s request “he quickly come to the end of himself and look up. Protection for him and all of his family.” Warfare is intense.
- Keith (Dawn’s grandson): come to the God of his parents and grandmother
- The hearts of Americans: turn to God! Our land will be healed.
- Peace of Jerusalem!
- Natan (Les’a and Don’s son and his family) & our soldiers:
- Pray for wisdom, accuracy, and knowledge. God will bring them home whole: spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. And God will be with their families.
- God’s wisdom, power, anointing, and favor.