Prayer and Fasting on Yom Kippur

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What do you do on Yom Kippur? The most common answer is to fast. Scripture's instruction for Yom Kippur is that we should anah ourselves. Traditionally this is applied as a 25 hour fast. There is some debate over whether or not fasting is required as the Hebrew word anah is usually translated as afflict or humble, and never fast. But of course fasting could be a way of humbling yourself.

But if you're fasting on Yom Kippur, that should just be part of your Yom Kippur. That's not the whole point. Our lack of understanding is sadly shown when we treat this set apart day as just a day to not eat. There's nothing wrong with fasting and it can be used to add meaning to this special time. But if that is the only connection with a Festival of YHWH I think we have missed something.

Because fasting is always to be paired with prayer. Here are some examples of that throughout Scripture.

-King David fasted while pleading for the life of his sick child. (2 Samuel 12:23)

-Anna never left the Beit Hamikdash, but worshiped day and night, fasting and praying. (Luke 2:37)

-Daniel was fasting and then prayed for Judah's release from exile. (Daniel 9:3)

-The talmidim had trouble curing a boy from demonic, epileptic fits and Yahusha told them healing could only happen through prayer and fasting in that instance. (Mark 9:29)

-Hannah was fasting when she went to the Tabernacle to ask YHWH to give her a son. (1 Samuel 1:18)

-Yahusha fasted and prayed in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:2)

-Shaul and Barnabas appointed elders to the congregations with prayer and fasting. (Acts 14:23)

-Joel recorded YHWH as saying to return to him with fasting and prayer. (Joel 2:12)

Can you see there's more to fasting than just missing a meal? I want Yom Kippur to be honored and celebrated for all it stands for, including that the perfect Yom Kippur sacrifice know intercedes for us continually. What if we made this a day of prayer? That same sacrifice said his house would be known as a house of prayer. Not that fasting isn't valuable and beneficial. But we should be known for our tefillah.

There are a few places in Scripture where fasting is not accompanied by prayer and it is clear YHWH is not pleased. One instance is how the Pharisees made it a point to show others they were fasting. Another example is in Isaiah 58 when YHWH asks if the objective of a fast to spread ashes and sackcloth under yourself? In other words, is the point of fasting simply to sit there without food all day or to try and impress others with your actions? Is this day to draw attention to yourself?

What if on Yom Kippur instead of emphasizing to our friends and family that we are fasting, we showed that this is a day we intercede for them? That on Yom Kippur we plead for teshuvah and mercy? What if during this set apart time we prayed for the restoration of the two Houses of Israel? What if we prayed that YHWH would bring them back?

What if the point to fasting isn't to go without food yourself, but to be able to give that food to someone hungry? 

My point is not to talk you out of fasting. Yahusha gave us instructions on the procedures for this, assuming we would fast. My point is to remind you there is more to this day than just going without food, that we could be called a house of prayer in this time.

I hope you each have a very beautiful and meaningful Yom Kippur!

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