1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Praying Continually
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 contains some great advice for all Christians: "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." These verses are written using a literary device called chiasmus. Chiasmus is often used in Hebrew literature, including the Old Testament, and Paul, being Jewish, was also very familiar with this writing style, using it often in his letters, including this passage. Unfortunately, chiasmus is difficult to spot in our English Bibles but when identified, it can often hold the key to understanding what Paul is saying. Chiasmus is an inversion of parallel thoughts which often focus on a central thought. In the case of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it can be seen when laid out like so:

Always be joyful. }
      pray continually 
} for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
always give thanks }

The focus is on the command to "pray continually". But how can one pray constantly? The concept here is to practise prayer at any time and in any circumstance we find ourselves. God wants us to be always looking to Him for guidance and help and always be willing to give thanks to Him. Next week, I'll expand on the meaning of these verses.


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