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?
Leave a Comment
Susan Dominikovich says
A wonderful example of grace. Thank you so much for this.
Sarah Markley says
thank you Susan!
What a gracious person you are! I pray for that kind of grace! Thank you!
Sarah Markley says
thank you Andrea!
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
Wow…what an awesome thought to come from your daughter…you have obviously raised her on God’s word. Jesus tells us we must become like little children in order to enter the gates of Heaven. How much we can learn from your daughter who wanted to pray for someone who hurt her family. It’s hard as an adult to pray for those who persecute you, but God calls us to do so anyway. And when we do it gives us peace and blesses those we’ve prayed for. Thanks for sharing an awe inspiring experience.
Sarah Markley says
thank you Bev! =)
Sarah (theGIRL) says
What a great story. Thank you for sharing…and for praying with your daughter. You’re a good mom. 🙂
Sarah Markley says
thanks so much Sarah! =)
Julie Sunne says
Grace in action! Beautiful example to share.
Sarah Markley says
thank you julie!
Thank You for that reminder today. It is easy to pray for those that bless you, but sometimes so hard to pray for those that have mistreated you. I have some praying to do!
Sarah Markley says
so true! thank you for your comment danyalle!
You are an inspiration…..
Thank-you for sharing this with all of us…..
Sarah Markley says
thank you Penny!
This completely reminds me of a season in my life where God called me to love a person that had broken my trust and really hurt me. And yes, there were days when extending grace was not hard; other days all I could give to God was a, “I really don’t like this person, but I am praying for them anyway.” I wish I could always walk like your daughter in such innocence, it’s a precious reminder of how we are to have child-like faith.
Oh my goodness, this is so important. We have struggled with this after one of my children was assaulted in a locker room, with seeking what will HELP the young man instead of cause further harm or hardening of his heart, with helping my child move on and forgive and see God’s hand of protection in the midst of healing from the hurt that did happen. Yes, it is difficult to hate when you are praying for your persecutors.
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.
Thank you ❤
Grace@Composed By Grace says
A little child will lead them! This was such a beautiful post! Thank you.
Maxine Gonzalez says
It is interesting that when we pray for our enemies, that something wonderful happens within us….we learn to give GRACE! And since it is a free gift from our Father in Heaven, how much more then, should we extend this grace to our enemies! Great post and I love how your daughter wanted to pray….out of the mouths of babes!
I’m sitting at my desk crying . .why? because three years , two months and 25 days ago my son, a law officer robbed a bank. He has a son with autism, whose therapy was costing $325 a week . .his insurance didn’t recognize autism as a disease. My son was depressed, severely sleep deprived (hadn’t slept more than 2 hours a night for over two years) and despondent. They had over-extended their credit trying to pay these bills. He didn’t know where to turn or what to do – he just wanted his son to communicate – to interact with him…..and so to continue the therapies he robbed a bank. A foolish, horrible decision that has caused us much heartache. I can tell you that those closest to us extended love and grace . .but some we considered friends were judgmental. My husband is a pastor and some people left the church because of it. Their Christianity didn’t show love, mercy, grace or kindness to us – -just judgement – – I didn’t see Christ in them. I hate what my son did, but I love my son. He is serving a 20 year sentence and after getting help with his depression and sleep he is his old self. He has repented. asked forgiveness of the bank teller and of course all of us and his fellow employees. He carries a heavy sentence and a heavier burden. To hear that you taught your your little girls to look past the crime and offer grace is so amazing to me. You are teaching them to have Godly hearts. Yes, there are consequences for our sins, but in God there is forgiveness and grace. Thank you for teaching that to your girls.
and . . .a footnote – -although Blue Cross/Blue Shield does not acknowledge autism a disease, the Federal government through medicare does, and my grandson is able to get therapy. He is know “high-functioning” and communicates very well. My son gets to see his children about every 6 weeks, they talk weekly on the phone and write each other.
Wow, this really moved me. Thank you Susan for being so open and vulnerable. It is heart breaking and heart wrenching when the church isn’t a safe place when we are hurting. Praise God Jesus is our refuge and ever present help and His love, grace and comfort is always something we can count on. I pray He helps us both to learn how to love those who judge and turn their backs on us.
Thank you for your reply. I have learned to not judge those who act out of ignorance. I am thankful that we have a God who sees the whole person – to show us to hate the sin, but to love the sinner. I can honestly say, I hate what my son did, but I love him with all my heart. This journey has taught me more about grace and forgiveness than I ever knew I was possible of.
Thank you for telling your story here. Desperation causes us to make choices we never knew we were capable of. As I sit here, waiting to be assigned to a jury, I know I may be asked to judge instead of extend grace. I am praying now for your family & healing, as well as the ones in this courtroom who are awaiting trials. Lord, have mercy & grant Your wisdom!
Thank you Susan, for telling your story here. Desperation causes us to make choices we never knew we were capable of. As I sit here, waiting to be assigned to a jury, I know I may be asked to judge instead of extend grace. I am praying now for your family & healing, as well as the ones in this courtroom who are awaiting trials. Lord, have mercy & grant Your wisdom!
Wendy, I think we need to remember that God says that there are consequences for our sins. So, I do believe if we commit a crime that we need to take the punishment. And I believe that punishment is part of the restoration process. So, if you are selected for a jury, ask God for wisdom in the decisions you will make.
Thank you so much for writing . .healing of a broken heart takes a very long time 🙁
knowing others care sure helps!
Beth Williams says
Wow!@ Such a powerful testimony on grace! 🙂 It is a shame that some in the church, or who claim to be Christian–are judgemental. They can’t see the other side of the story or put themselves in your son’s shoes.
Praying for God’s grace for your family and the church your husband pastors. May God richly bless you and surround you all with His love grace and mercy!@
Beth, thank you for your prayers. It amazes me how the church is so judgmental . .and I admit this event opened my eyes to how judgmental I have been in my own Christianity. Now I find myself often praying that God help me to extend grace to others,
I don’t know how I would have gotten through all of this without the love of God. Sometimes, He is all we have – Always, He is all we need.
I will pray for you and your son somehow God has a way of working things out
Thank you for your prayers. I believe my son needed to be in prison for what he did. I am grateful that He is walking closer to the Lord now. I pray constantly that his sentence is reduced so he can be back with his family.
Mark Allman says
Susan I will pray that with you. I know the church can be hard when it should be extending grace. I pray that we realize we are all who have stolen; who have betrayed; who chose to do wrong in one way or another and without the grace of God our destruction would await.
What a big heart your children have and such a deep understanding of prayer. I think I would have felt to frustrated, angry and violated to remember to pray. Those are the times prayer is needed most.
Having had the privelege of meeting your daughters at the (In) Courage weekend, I can almost see the expression of concern on her face. What a joy to have our daughters/grandaughters remind us of who God wants us to be in situations like this. I always rejoice when I see the tenderheartedness toward God and others in a child. May she ever hold onto that beautiful trait that God has placed as part of her character.
Sarah Eccles says
I love how simple children see things and I so love this example. Your daughter asked to pray for him straight away I love that we as adults would be mad, angry and frustrated. God can use our children so much to influence us on how we are. I so believe in the power of prayer that is how I have survived all these years and forgiveness is so important otherwise it will eat you alive if you don’t and give it to God.
Susan G says
Oh…such a hard prayer… And the little children shall lead us… 🙂 Thanks for the hard and ‘real’ stuff today…where we all live.
May you and your family be blessed beyond measure!
God’s blessings on you, precious women of God that you are and are raising!
I had no idea at the beginning of this day how much I would need to read this, to have this post in my head & my heart. Thank you.
Beth Williams says
Great post! Wow what a young child can teach us about grace!!
For a while, I have felt persecuted, not wanted, at work. My thoughts haven’t always been kind toward my co-workers and bosses. Lately God has been talking to me & I have been praying for every single person in the clinic. I’ve asked God to bless them in what He knows they need.
I also pray for His Will in my work situation. Either make it better or get me out of here.
Loved the post!
It was an unfortunate thing that it happened but your daughter’s response really touched my heart. Her young heart knew the right response–prayer. It unclogs our heart of any unforgiveness and anger and frees us to a level of peace found only in Him. I pray God will be able to reach into the heart of the person or people who did that and help them make it right and get on the path to right living.
God bless you all!
What a testament to how you are raising your girls! Praying for those who hurt us is so difficult and is often the LAST thing we want to do or even think about doing. Your daughter looked for the best in that situation–giving a possibly good motivation (needing rent) for a bad action.
About 20 minutes ago as I was driving home, I encountered a woman on the sidewalk next to my car as I was at a stoplight. I gave her a handful of change–probably a little over two dollars. I didn’t give her the one bill in my purse–a twenty. I don’t know why she had the sign that said, “Hungry. Broke. Need Money.” Maybe she’s just a panhandler; maybe she’s really desperate. Your daughter would have given her the twenty. . .
Today i thought of the astronomical price of computer software and was tempted to steal. To use a non licensed program bc the rich are extorting money from tge poor to make them richer..meanwhile i need a job. So i suppose thats what God means..sometimes its bc maybe i dont want to do the work someone else has and pay the 2500 dollars for the software othertimes we dont know why ppl do wrong. But i do wrong everyday so even though God is merciful we still need to pray for our offenders even if we are the innocent party bc God did it for us when we were His enemies. He will avenge
It is easier when we realise our own sinfulness..sometimes being a ‘good’ person is the rival of saved. No one is righteous before the cross..
God has been allowing numerous disappointments in my life to teach me forgiveness. I lost a relationship and a career due to the actions in directly of others. Everytime i thought i had it licked someone else disappointment me with devastating news. I am learning it is bc i need to release unforgiveness of my accuser and hurter. Each time i release more and more i need forgiveness and i never would thought that maybe by allowing this God is showing me how much i have been forgiven and need to realease others from there prison. Perhaps what i lost will never be restored but i know if i hold onto bitterness and revenge God cant do anything for me. I must forgive otherwise bitterness will take root and i really will lose out then.
Sandy Renaud says
Your story and your ‘prayer’ really portrays the ‘heart of love’ of our Savior! Blessings on you for allowing His love to flow through you Your dear daughter has such a tender heart to. You obviously are a great role model to her since she responded in such a loving way. Great encouragement for us all. Thank you!
Diane Taylor says
As alwasy Sarah – your story reminds me that out of the bad comes something good. Praying for our enemies is not easy for us – certianly not easy fo rme. Our initial gut reaction is to curse and swear and want to persecute them. Your daughter is wise beyond her years – and I love seeing the world thru those innocent eyes.
So now I’m crying…tears of hope that such a wonderful little girl will become an amazing woman, tears of gratitude that you, dear Sarah, always so self-doubtful and self-critical, have obviously hit it out of the ballpark (w/your husband, too) in terms of the only area in your life (besides your marriage) that really matters, raising your children, and tears of intercession, for all those who do things to upset the delicate balance we call civilization, that somehow those of us who are in any form of caregiving or outreach or ministry can make our presence and purpose more known and more available. Thanks, as always, Sarah.
Mark Allman says
I am glad your car was broken into. What a powerful time and lesson with your daughter and for you as well I am sure. May you continue to cultivate that beautiful heart of hers. Most want someone who hurts them to suffer. It is a powerful thing to do to extend grace to one who hurts you. May we love enough to do this.
I believe forgiveness is the only way for healing to occur. Both for the perpetrator and the one offended.
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