Category: 08_2023-3

Elul – 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Elul – 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting

By Eric Carlson in 08_2023-3 on August 1, 2023

The biblical month of Elul begins Thursday evening, August 17th at sunset. The 1st of Elul begins a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days! It marks 30 days until Yom Teruah and 40 days till Yom Kippur. Elul is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgement when the Sefer HaChaim, the Book of Life is opened on Yom Kippur, The Day of purging. The month of Elul is likened to a king visiting his subjects in the field before returning to his palace.

Elul is an Akkadian word for “harvest”. The Jewish names of months came from our captivity in Babylon. Scripture refers to the months by their numerical order except for the first month of the new year, Aviv. Elul is a time to search one’s heart to draw closer to Adonai. It is customary to recite Psalm 27 every day during this 40-day period of seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness. The 27th Psalm is one of trust, the psalmist has no fear of enemies while in the Lord’s protection. This Psalm is extremely relevant in our day today:

Psalm 27. By David: ADONAI is my light (Ori) and salvation (Yeshua); whom do I need to fear? ADONAI is the stronghold of my life; of whom should I be afraid? 2 When evildoers assailed me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and foes, they stumbled and fell. 3 If an army encamps against me, my heart will not fear; if war breaks out against me, even then I will keep trusting. 4 Just one thing have I asked of ADONAI; only this will I seek: to live in the house of ADONAI all the days of my life, to see the beauty of ADONAI and visit in his temple. 5 For he will conceal me in his shelter (Sukkah) on the day of trouble, he will hide me in the folds of his tent, he will set me high on a rock. 6 Then my head will be lifted up above my surrounding foes, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, sing praises to ADONAI. 7 Listen, ADONAI, to my voice when I cry; show favor to me; and answer me. 8 “My heart said of you, ‘Seek my face.’ “Your face, ADONAI, I will seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me, don’t turn your servant away in anger. You are my help; don’t abandon me; don’t leave me, God my savior. 10 Even though my father and mother have left me, ADONAI will care for me. 11 Teach me your way, ADONAI; lead me on a level path because of my enemies 12 don’t give me up to the whims of my foes; for false witnesses have risen against me, also those who are breathing violence. 13 If I hadn’t believed that I would see ADONAI’s goodness in the land of the living, 14 Put your hope in ADONAI, be strong, and let your heart take courage! Yes, put your hope in ADONAI!

The reason this Psalm is fundamental to this period of T’Shuvah (repentance) is that it contains references to all three fall feasts: “my light,” ori in Hebrew refers to Yom Teruah as the shofar announces the arrival of Adonai, the “or”, the light! My Salvation, Yeshua refers to the atonement He gave us for Yom Kippur. Then David states Adonai would hide him in his sukkah in the times of trouble, referring to the holiday of Sukkot in verse 5.

Psalm 27:13 also contains a textual oddity: “If I hadn’t believed that I would see ADONAI’s goodness in the land of the living.” The phrase “If I hadn’t” in Hebrew is lule which when read backwards spells Elul. Salvation comes from devoted trust in Adonai’s mercy, goodness, and salvation. These 40 days are an awakening from the apathy and slumber induced by sin. The Fall Feasts are Moedim, Divine Appointments that God established, specific times that He’d be among His people! Its critical to prepare for these appointed times.

Isaiah 55:6-7. Seek ADONAI while he is available, call on him while he is still nearby. 7 Let the wicked person abandon his way and the evil person his thoughts; let him return to ADONAI, and he will have mercy on him; let him return to our God, for he will freely forgive.

The services in these 40 days of Elul are referred to as Selichot Services from:

Psalm 130:4. But with you there is forgiveness (selichah: forgiveness, pardon), so that you will be feared.

This word exclusively refers to God’s mercy to grant forgiveness, to pardon the sins of those who repent. Selichah is found only three times in the Tanach, once in Psalm 130:4 the other two are in profound prayers of repentance. The first in Nehemiah where he recalled our rebellion and Adonai’s compassion toward us:

Nehemiah 9:16-17. “‘But they and our ancestors were arrogant; they stiffened their necks and ignored your mitzvot; 17 they refused to listen and paid no attention to the wonders you had done among them. No, they stiffened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a leader to return them to their slavery. But because you are a God of forgiveness (selichah), merciful, full of compassion, slow to grow angry and full of grace, you did not abandon them.

And then in Daniels powerful prayer of repentance upon reading in Jeremiah that Israel’s 70 years of captivity and exile in Babylon/Persia was complete. Daniel immediately began repenting for Israel’s sins that had resulted in our exile:

Daniel 9:8-10. Yes, ADONAI, shame falls on us, our kings, our leaders and our ancestors; because we sinned against you. 9 It is for Adonai our God to show compassion and forgiveness (selichah), because we rebelled against him. 10 We didn’t listen to the voice of ADONAI our God, so that we could live by his laws, which he presented to us through his servants the prophets.

The prophet Jeremiah is a holy Set Up for this time of Elul prayer and repentance! Things were as bleak in Jeremiah’s’ time as they are for us today! What we learn from Jeremiah is that it didn’t have to be the way it ended! I want to read two excerpts from Jeremiah 23 though I’m tempted to paste the entire chapter:

Jeremiah 23:1-4. “Oh no! The shepherds are destroying and scattering the sheep in my pasture!” says ADONAI. 2 Therefore this is what ADONAI, the God of Isra’el, says against the shepherds who shepherd my people: “You have scattered my flock, driven them away and not taken care of them. So I will ‘take care of’ you because of your evil deeds,” says ADONAI. 3 “I myself will gather what remains of my flock from all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their homes, and they will be fruitful and increase their numbers. 4 I will appoint shepherds over them who will shepherd them; then they will no longer be afraid or disgraced; and none will be missing,” says ADONAI.

We are in the great apostasy-much of the greater body looks like the world! Then he states:

Jeremiah 23:16-18. ADONAI-Tzva’ot says: “Don’t listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are making you act foolishly, telling you visions from their own minds and not from the mouth of ADONAI. 17 They keep reassuring those who despise me, ‘ADONAI says you will be safe and secure,’ and saying to all living by their own stubborn hearts, ‘Nothing bad will happen to you.’ 18 But which of them has been present at the council of ADONAI to see and hear his word? Who has paid attention to his word enough to hear it?”

These verses accurately reveal our own situation today!! Our own shepherds have scattered the sheep with lying spirits and doctrines of demons! Manmade religion that espouses and even accepts the immoral culture they live in! Almost every denomination has split over the LGBQT false narrative, same sex marriage, BLM, and wokeism. The greater body is overwhelmed with false prophets who are not hearing or speaking the voice of Adonai! They speak their own words and proclaim dreams that aren’t from Adonai and don’t come to pass! The greater body is in apostasy like Judah was back in Jeremiah’s day.

It’s such a sad story that didn’t have to be!! Judah was given a choice to serve and obey Adonai and His Torah or not! Their negative answer of course resulted in their demise and destruction! They tried to kill Jeremiah for speaking truth and just as they tried to kill Yeshua for speaking truth! The cancel culture today is doing everything in its power to silence the voice of truth, the word of Adonai! An evil and wicked generation hates the light and rejects all truth! We are at a similar crossroads! We too have a choice! Will we intercede, repent, and pray for this nation to turn back to Adonai? Or remain apathetic and complacent until our nation is judged and destroyed!

To date, as a nation, we still haven’t repented! Instead, we’ve catered to prophecies that tickle our ear to hear what we want to hear. Our sins are no less great than Israel’s; our pride is a clenched fist in the face of God, our arrogance an act of self-centeredness, and our defiance is willful disobedience to the God of heaven and earth; creator and sustainer of families, governments, even life itself. The more we defy Adonai as a nation the worse our situation becomes. Our sexual immorality, passing our children through the fires of Molech (abortion) even live birth abortion, idolatry, insolence, and disobedience to our founding covenants with Him as our nation was birthed.

God is shaking the very foundations of the Earth and the Body of Messiah. As I’ve been sharing for several years now, we’re in the last days! What we are experiencing today is recorded throughout the word! Soon the Shofar will sound, and the Messianic Reign of God will be established upon this earth and Yeshua will return to rule as King over all the earth! Until then let us not relent in sharing the Good News and calling upon all to repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!


Rabbi Eric S Carlson!