Prayer for a Thief

He threatened my life, but what I felt for him wasn’t hate or disgust.

I had just started my first job, and I loved it. On a particular day, not long after I started, a co-worker and I heard the bell telling us a customer had come in the door. It was a man, about 50 years old, who looked just like anyone else. The man walked about half the distance to our counter from the door before he pulled out a knife. He then walked very quickly to us and demanded money from the till.

Fortunately, he just took the money and ran. Even before he was out the door, I began to call the police. After hours of questions we finally left the police station. I thought about what had just happened as I drove home. I had been scared, but all I could think was, What happened in this man’s life that made him resort to breaking the law and putting innocent lives in danger? I wondered what his life was like.

The strangest part was that I kept wishing I could help this man. I kept asking myself if there was someone who could have helped him, who could have led him to think more about his choices in life. Then I began to think about all the people I knew. I wondered if there might have been someone who needed me, but I had not listened to the Spirit long enough to know it.

As all this was going through my mind, I had an overwhelming feeling. I prayed, first to thank my Heavenly Father for protecting me, but then to ask Him to bless the man who robbed our store. I asked Him to help the man find the happiness I have in my life. I knew Heavenly Father was the only one who knew how to help this man.

At that moment I realized how truly blessed I was to have the gospel. No matter what happens, I know I can turn to my Father in Heaven and He will help me. The gospel was a very special gift I had been taking for granted all my life.

I wanted to find the man who robbed the store and tell him about prayer and about the gospel. I wanted to tell him of the Atonement and of God’s plan for us. But I especially wanted to share my testimony of God’s love for all His children.

Even though this man put my life in danger, he is a precious child in Heavenly Father’s sight. He is one of His lost sheep. I felt then, and even now feel, a love for this man I do not know.

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann