"Pray without Ceasing"

Recently I was reading a very good book entitled Our Father, Abraham by Marvin Wilson. He made this comment about Prayer in the life of a Jew.

"Prayer is the means by which Jews – both ancient and modern – have stayed attuned to the concept that all of life is sacred. Jewish prayers ten to be short because the entire working day of an observant Jew is punctuated with sentence prayers. More than one hundred of these bera-khot, “blessings,” are recited throughout the day (cf. Mishnah, Berakhot 9:1-5). They customarily begin, Barukh attah adonai, “Blessed are you, O LORD,” As King and Creator of the universe, God’s presence is acknowledged at all times and in every sphere of activity within his world. Moses commanded the Isrealites to bless the Lord for his goodness (Deut. 8:10). Building on this and other texts, the rabbis taught, “It is forbidden to a man to enjoy anything of this world without a benediction, he commits sacrilege” (Babylonia Talmud, Berakhot 35a). Hence a Jew recites a prayer upon hearing bad news and good news, when smelling fragrant plants, and when eating food or drinking wine. A jew offers a prayer in the presence of strangely formed persons, such as giants or dwarfs. A Jew is even instructed to offer a prayer (several times a day) to bless God that one is able to urinate. The prayer reads: “Blessed is He who has formed man in wisdom and created in him many orifices and many cavities. It is fully known before the throne of Thy glory that if one of them should be [improperly] opened or one of them closed it would be impossible for a man to stand before Thee” (Babylonia Talmud, Berakhot 60b).
It is, therefore, not pure facetiousness when, in Fiddler on the Roof, the rabbi is asked, “Is there a blessing for the Tsar?” , and again, “Is there a blessing [i.e., to God] for a sewing machine?” These Jews, in their Russian village, are reflecting the ancient Hebraic belief that everything is theological. This is the way one stays in touch with the Almighty and keeps a divine perspective on life. It means constantly praising God for all things, with sentence prayers, throughout the day. Abraham Heschel poignantly describes this Jewish mind-set as follows: “Saintliness was not thought to consist in specific acts, such as excessive prayer . . . but was an attitude bound up with all actions, concomitant with all doings, accompanying and shaping all life’s activities.” Indeed, today’s Christians will fail to grasp Paul’s admonition to “Pray without ceasing,” that is, “Pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17), unless they understand that a main feature of Jewish prayer is its pervasiveness. (157-8)."

Understood in this context prayer is simply not a matter of clasping the hands and bowing the knee. Prayer is a constant realization that everything come from the LORD no matter how mundane.