A few weeks ago on a Monday morning, my husband stepped outside to walk the dog.
Before he got out of the driveway, he abruptly stopped, turned around and raced back inside the house.
“Sarah. Your passenger side window has been shattered. Someone broke into your car overnight.”
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. There was that one time I parked in a dark parking garage for an early morning session at the gym and someone stole my purse off the seat. My bad. I shouldn’t have left it there.
But this time? Nothing valuable was in my car. I’ve learned my lesson well. But nonetheless, the thief took an old bag that I’m guessing looked like a purse with nothing of consequence inside.
I was more perturbed than I was violated.
Even so, my husband and I traded cars and he took mine into to the auto repair to get my window fixed.
I drove the girls to school in the Prius. As we pulled out of the neighborhood, we talked about what happened.
My seven-year-old: “Mama, why do people steal things?”
Me: “Oh sweetheart, sometimes people steal things because they need money. Or maybe they just were rowdy kids doing things they weren’t supposed to do. I don’t know.”
And I really didn’t know.
My daughter just looked down. Both of my daughters seemed sad.
My eleven year old spoke up. “Mama. Can we pray for the thief?”
“Of course we can.” I responded.
“Because, what if they needed money to pay their rent? What if he didn’t have enough money to feed his family, Mom? What if his family just needed stuff to live? Can we pray that they are okay?”
I looked over at her in the seat next to me.
She looked worried and so grown up. As if the weight of the bigger world sometimes settled on her shoulders. It’s a hard space to be in when you’re approaching twelve.
So I prayed and she closed her eyes tightly as I watched the road. I prayed for the guy (or kids) who broke into my car. I prayed for his family. I smiled as I prayed because even though she was probably misguided as to the reasons why, she was hopeful. She was innocent and she was brilliant.
This is what Jesus meant when He said to pray for those who persecute you. It isn’t a grumbly prayer of “Lord-help-them-stop-being-an-idiot.”
Praying for our persecutors is a grace-filled, innocent request on the part of us, the wounded, to honestly ask for blessings on those who do us wrong. We must be a people who want to rain love and grace and blessing on those who hurt us and those who take from us. We must be a church who prays, with genuine hearts, for our enemies. And we must, at the same time, wish them well.
And who knows if anyone has ever prayed for our thief? Who knows what exactly the power of a prayer of blessing can do for a man? Or for a woman? Only God knows if the echoed prayer of a fifth-grader actually reached to the heart of a man who came to steal and destroy.
To the guy who took my bag and shattered my window: I pray God’s blessing on you. I pray the innocent love of an eleven-year-old who sees the goodness in you. I pray God’s kindness and everlasting love over your life. Thank you for taking from me as it has taught me to pray even more.
Do you believe in the power of prayer? How hard is it to pray for our enemies? Have you seen goodness come from something like this?