Prayers for a Thief

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“Prayers for a Thief,” Ensign, Sept. 1992, 63–64

Prayers for a Thief

My father bought a new truck when I was six years old. I remember the first time he drove it into our driveway; the sun’s reflection shimmered on the new paint as I ran toward the truck, pleading for a ride.

Several months later, Dad called our family together. He explained that he was unable to pay the bills. Mother was expecting a baby, and money was scarce. It had been a difficult decision, but he’d decided to sell the truck. We all felt sad; the truck had become part of our family camping and fishing adventures. But we knew there were no other options.

An advertisement was placed in the newspaper, and a “For Sale” sign was displayed in the truck window.

One day a man flagged my father down, and said our truck was exactly what he had been looking for. The following day he assumed my father’s loan.

Three months later, my father received a notice from the bank claiming he was three months behind on his truck payments. Upon telephoning the buyer’s home, Dad learned that the buyer had written several bad checks and had left his wife.

Dad called the police and the insurance company, but there was nothing he could do. The bank insisted on Dad’s making the payments for a truck he no longer had. Several months passed, and he was still making payments on our missing truck. We were all affected by the bitterness he felt.

About this time, my uncle returned from a mission. He listened to my father’s plight and then asked Dad if he had prayed for the man who had stolen the truck. My father said he had asked the Lord to return our truck, but he could never pray for the man who had caused our family so much grief. My uncle reminded Dad that the Savior taught us to “love your enemies … and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Matt. 5:44.) My uncle also quoted the Savior’s admonition to forgive those who trespass against us “seventy times seven” times. (Matt. 18:22.)

My father thought about the Savior’s teachings for a while and then called us together for prayer.

I’ll always remember my father humbly pleading with Heavenly Father to bless the man who had stolen our truck and to give us the strength to forgive and love the man. As we prayed, a spirit of peace and love entered our home.

From that day on, all of our prayers included a petition to bless the man who had taken our truck. The spirit that warmed my young heart let me know that loving and forgiving the man who had taken our truck was the thing the Lord wanted us to do.

Two weeks later our telephone rang. A man on the other end apologized for stealing our truck, explained where it could be found, and asked for our forgiveness.

The next day Dad left on a bus to pick up our truck in a small southern town. Several days later, he returned home. The truck was beat up, and its tires were worn out. Over the next few months, we repaired and painted the truck. We then sold it to another buyer.

Although having our truck stolen seemed difficult and unfair at the time, I will be eternally grateful to my father for calling us together to pray for the man who had taken it. At the age of seven, I learned the importance of forgiving, loving, and praying for our enemies. I also learned that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. I will always remember the spirit of love and peace that entered our home when we prayed for the man who had stolen our truck.