There are many books on the market about prayer. Sometimes one comes along that takes a unique approach to the topic. Such is the case with the recently released Through, With, and In Him: The Prayer Life of Jesus and How to Make It Our Own. Author Shane Kapler’s approach to prayer (as the title suggests) is to look at the prayer life of Jesus Christ himself. Its an approach that works and one that reveals a prayer life we can all learn from.
First and foremeost Shane does a superb job establishing a point which I feel most Christians forget . Jesus Christ was a devout, practicing Jew. A faith passed on and instilled him him by his parents Joseph and Mary. He participated in the required observations that any good Jew did. He followed the Jewish customs. Most importantly he led the prayer-life of a faithful Jew. As you will find out in the book there is much we can learn from this devout prayer-life.
While Shane takes the reader into a deeper knowledge of Christ’s Jewish faith he shows us how many of our own current customs in the Catholic faith are similar. This comparison drives home the point that we too can live a faithful prayer life like Jesus. Ultimately we are all part of the mystical body of Christ’s Church, thus, we are all called to participate in his prayer. The wonderful thing is Shane shows us how.
You will learn about the daily liturgy of a Jew and the specific prayers they prayed. These were the exact same prayers Christ himself would have prayed. Three times of prayer were observed, morning, afternoon and evening. We have the same opportunity available to us in The Liturgy of the Hours. Shane effectively makes this correlation which enjoins us to the ritual prayer of our Lord.
Shane points out that Jesus celebrated the Sabbath, major feast days and made the required pilgrimages to the Temple. His faithful obedience is an example for us today. The Catholic Church requires Mass attendance weekly and our attendance during Holy Days of Obligation. Perhaps looking at the faithfulness of Jesus may make some reconsider their weak excuses for non-attendance.
There is also the spontaneous prayer of Jesus that is told of in the Gospels. This was an interesting part of the book. Shane pointed out some examples that I had never considered before. Befiore every major decision or event of his ministry Christ went off to pray. “Through the Spirit he preached, taught, healed, exorcised demons and he prayed. In the midst of all that activity he would withdraw to deserted places to pray. Even though his every word and action was directed toward establishing his Father’s kingdom, the Spirit still moved Jesus to carve out moments of intimacy between himself and the Father.” if moments like this were that important to Jesus than how important are they to us? Examples of this abound throughout the book. One such instance is the conferral of the papacy upon Simon Peter. Jesus had been at prayer prior to the “Who do people say I am” exchange that established the papacy.
Shane does not stop there. The second part of Chapter 5 takes the reader through an in depth line by line study on the prayer Jesus taught us, the Our Father. Shane points out a very good observation about this prayer. “I began to notice how everything I was trying to put into spontaneous prayer, and more, was already there in the Our Father: praise and thanksgiving; the conversion of loved ones; that the world at large begin doing thing’s God’s way; all of my and my loved one’s bodily, emotional, and spiritual needs; forgiveness; the strength I need to overcome sin; and deliverance from all manner of evil. The Our Father was a complete school of prayer.”
The book is rounded out by some insightful chapters on some popular devotions. Shane touches upon devotion to the Sacred Heart, Consecration to Jesus through Mary, praying a Morning Offering and the Rosary.
Shane Kapler has presented us with a book that I think is a must read. His insight and research into the Jewish prayer life Jesus led can do nothing less than help fortify and enhance our own. If taken to heart the example set forth in this book will lead your own prayer life from “praying” to actual “prayer” and a relationship with the Father. It is certainly a challenge for us all. Shane states in the final lines of the book: “Accept the challenge to try one other practice or devotion recommended here for at least a week. If it is a good fit, then commit to using it for a month. Whatever the practice is, recognize that is Jesus offering himself to the Father through you. You, my friend, are being inserted into the very life of the Trinity!”
I received a copy of the book for this review from the publisher, Angelico Press.