“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:9-14
Verse 14, the verse after The Lord’s Prayer explains the reason for the Lord’s prayer; it’s about forgiveness.
This may seem a bit odd. But if you consider the Lord’s prayer a chiasm, it makes perfect sense.
A chiasm (or chiastic pattern) is a literary technique that emphasizes the middle of a passage rather than the end. A chiasm builds into the middle and then builds out in a mirror fashion.
In the Lord’s prayer, the center would be, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. In verse 14, Jesus is explaining the “center” – the main point of the chiasm. Our fellowship is hindered if we bear grudges. Intimate relationships can’t abide bitterness or ill will.
We don’t particularly want to forgive others. So Jesus offers an explanation: if you don’t heal relationships down here, you won’t be able to have a healthy relationship with your Heavenly Father.
The verses on either side of the main part are about dependence. “Give us today our daily bread” and “lead us not into temptation.” We are to acknowledge that we depend upon Jesus physically as well as spiritually.
If we are living in dependence on God, we can allow him to be God, and let go of living in judgment toward others. The great benefit is that when we then forgive others, God will overlook our faults.
The Lord’s Prayer can be a key to choosing a true perspective. A perspective rooted in obedience, dependence and forgiveness toward our fellow travelers in this life. And one that unlocks the door of healthy relationship with our Father.