A Worship Song & Devotional for Your Yom Kippur

Shani Ferguson
By Shani Ferguson


It’s a somber few days as the world remembers the horror that took place 20 years ago this week on 9/11 – and at this time Israel prepares for her annual fast. Wednesday is the eve of Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, which is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. If you commemorate this day outside of Israel, you may find it difficult to completely shut off life. Therefore, if life has its demands on Yom Kippur and you simply cannot set the day aside, here are the prayer points to keep for this day, when you can.

In Israel, however, for 25 hours, the nation stops. The streets clear of vehicles, and people dressed in white begin to trickle out onto the streets—many are on their way to synagogue to read traditional prayers of repentance and to ask for forgiveness. There is no public transportation, no open stores and no planes are in the air on Yom Kippur. There is silence, there is a pause, as thousands of people come to the Western Wall for many hours to pray and ask God to forgive them personally—and collectively—as a nation. 

Though the no-driving rule is not imposed on the Israeli-Arab population, most Arabs respectfully stay close to home. They also offer help to the Jewish population as they cover the shifts for many of the emergency services on holy days such as this one. Religious and secular Jews alike participate in Yom Kippur, many choosing to fast and give their attention to considering how they live. In Hebrew, the word “repent” doesn’t mean just to feel sorry, it literally means to return—return to God.  

On this Day of Atonement, what does it mean to atone for sin? In the Old Testament, it was the one day that the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrifice.  He would sprinkle blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant to atone for his personal and family sins and the sins of the nation of Israel. (Leviticus 16) Today, Israel has no temple or High Priest and yet God has provided a way for her to return to Him. It is on this that we as believers focus our prayers. And so, on this day the Lord set aside for His nation, we look both inward at our lives and outward to pray for our nation to return to Him.   

A Personal Prayer:

Lord, prepare me to meet with You today.  Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

  • I am here to meet with You. So many things will pull at my attention today—they can wait. Help me to set this day apart for You.  I don’t want to go through the motions of this day like it is an ordinary day. Help me to put my complete focus on You.
  • As I choose to stop and refrain from what I would typically do on this day, I am making space to hear Your voice and meet with You today.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing unto You, oh Lord my rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

  • Show me the ways I have hurt You with my actions, words and mindsets. Forgive me for the ways I have disobeyed You.
  • My actions begin with my thoughts. It is in here that I want to meet with You.
  • My mind is a garden and I need You to be my gardener. 
  • Catch the seeds of evil before they take root in my heart. 
  • Prune the weeds and thorns that sneak up in my life. 
  • Plant in me seeds that will bear good fruit.
  • Nourish my soil with Your Word.

I repent, I turn away from the way I have done things over this past year, and I turn towards You. 

  • Forgive me if I have tried to hide from You in different areas of my life. I know that there is no way to escape Your presence. Everywhere I go, You are there— before me, behind me and all around me. (Psalm 139: 7-10)
  • Thank You for Your atonement and complete redemption of my life and soul. 

Today, I rightly place you on the throne, where You belong. 

  • You are the King of the Universe.  You are Holy in ALL of Your ways.  I humble myself before You.  I will not try to conceal my iniquities but choose to look at the ways I have sinned and bring them to You, knowing you have freely forgiven me through the blood of Yeshua, my Messiah. (1 John 1:9)
  • “If there are any of my family members who have unforgiveness in their hearts towards someone, soften their heart. Help them to bring their bitterness to You and make way for reconciliation.”  (Matthew 6:14-15)

A Prayer for Family:

Joshua spoke boldly about his family—“As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

  • You are a good Heavenly Father.  Thank You for protecting us, leading us, and providing for us over this past year.

God of Heaven you know the longings of a Father. And so, to You, I pray these promises over my family and the children you have given me.

  • “This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.” (Jeremiah 31:16-17)
  • “And all your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13)
  • “…The seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” (Proverbs 11:21)
  • “…Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.” (Psalm 112:1-2)
  • “…For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.” (Isaiah 49:25)
  • “…I will pour my spirit upon your seed, and my blessing upon your offspring.” (Isaiah 44:3)
  • “And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Isaiah 59:21)

Lord, just as Aaron brought You a sacrifice to make restitution for the sins of his home, I bring You the sins of my family.  

  • Forgive us, Lord.  For my spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents—I ask You to meet with them today. Convict them of any sin in their lives.

For my family members who do not have a personal relationship with You, Lord, open their eyes. Draw them to You. 

  • Help me to know how to serve my family and represent You in my actions towards them. 
  • Heal the wounds between our family members and let the love we have for one another that covers a multitude of sins be a testimony to Your goodness. 

A Prayer for Friendships:

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)

  • I was not called to succeed on my own. You created us to be in community with one another.
  • I am a part of Your Body, strengthen my relationship with others around me who love You so that we can encourage each other as we run our race before You.
  • Help me choose good friends who will spur me to follow You and remove from my life friendships that draw me away from You.
  • Show me how to bear the burdens of others and show others how to help bear my burdens.  
  • Show me how to be a true friend and servant to those You have chosen to be in my life.

A Prayer for the Nation of Israel:

Lord, as the nation of Israel fasts and prays on this day, open their eyes to see You as their Redeemer.  

  • “We pray for the peace of Israel,” Psalm 122:6.
  • We pray for those serving in the IDF, stationed throughout Israel, defending the nation.  Protect Israeli soldiers on this day, give them rest and meet with them.
  • Forgive the nation and people of Israel of their sins—known and unknown.  
  • Lord, have your way in synagogues across Israel.  Meet those who are deeply seeking You.  Help Yom Kippur to not only be a day full of traditions but for it to be meaningful. 

We thank You for the people of Israel and that they have set apart this day to focus on repentance.  By Your design, there is no other nation in the world like Israel!  

You have called Israel to be a light to the nations. The eyes of the world are often on Israel and how she handles things. Cause her to follow in Your ways so they will lead the nations to You. 

A Prayer for the Nations:

Abraham’s legendary meeting with the Lord had three interesting parts to it.

First, Abraham worshipped and fellowshipped with the Lord. Second, Abraham received a blessing and an answer to an old prayer he had likely stopped praying decades before, though it remained the deepest cry of his heart—a son!

Third, the Lord opened up to Him about His plans for Sodom and Abraham began to intercede for those outside his inner circle. It’s interesting to note that while the destruction of an entire city was being discussed, Abraham interceded on behalf of Sodom not for humanistic reasons. He understood the need to eradicate evil from the earth and as such his prayers were for the sake of the righteous people residing in the city.

  • Father, we too recognize Your desire to remove evil from the earth. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. The earth is Your handiwork and You alone hold the authority to do with it as You wish.
  • Like Abraham, we ask You to spare the innocent and righteous from destruction.
  • We ask that the number of righteous would increase across the earth. That their influence would be greater than the influence of evil—and that their testimony would shine so the wicked will see and turn to You.
  • We too want Your earth to be filled with Your glory and for nations to enjoy the blessings that come with being ruled by righteous leaders. So let it be

If you’re not already getting this weekly prayer letter, you can subscribe at MaozIsrael.org/pray

Your fellow intercessors,

Kobi and Shani Ferguson
and the entire Maoz Israel Team

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