Free Bible Lesson on Prayer: Having the Right Attitude
Published: April 7, 2023
In this free Bible lesson, kids will learn more about having the right attitude in prayer by exploring the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
The idea of talking to God, the creator of the universe, can seem a bit intimidating. How do we approach God? What do we say? What should our attitude be?
Most children are just beginning to consider how communication with God makes a difference in their lives and the lives of others. To some, prayer is a ritual that they do before a meal or at bedtime and it involves little personal interaction. Others may have memorized prayers, but don’t know how to share their own thoughts with God. Still others have heard adults pray yet aren’t comfortable talking to someone they can’t see.
Use this prayer activity to show children that through the Bible God helps us know how to pray. As they look to examples from God’s Word, they can see that it’s the simple and honest prayers that mean the most to God.
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
- large book for the Pharisee
- pillowcase stuffed with newspaper as a moneybag for the tax collector
- Bring in a couple of robes or funny hats for your actors to wear.
- If children have their Bibles, invite them to follow along in Luke 18:9-14.
Choose two volunteers for this prayer activity. One child will be a Pharisee and hold the big “law book.” The other will be a tax collector and hold the bag of “money.” Open your Bible to Luke 18 and tell the kids this story comes from the Bible.
Say: Some people in Bible times thought they were holier than others and looked down on others. Jesus told them this story.
Two men went up to the Temple to pray. Invite your two volunteers to join you at the front of the room. One was a Pharisee. Have your “Pharisee” step forward and bow to the class. He knew a lot about laws. Have the Pharisee hold up the law book. He was very puffed up and proud because of what he knew and how he acted in front of other people. Have your Pharisee stand very proudly as if he or she is very important. Everyone thought the Pharisee was important. Have the class “ooh” and “aah” because they admire the Pharisee.
The other person was a tax collector. Have the “tax collector” step forward and hold up his or her moneybag. Everyone hated tax collectors because they were dishonest and greedy and stole from others. Have the class “boo” the tax collector.
Attitude Is Everything
Say: Both of these men had come to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself. He said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men who are robbers and evildoers, or even like that man over there. Have the Pharisee point to the tax collector and make a disgusted face. The tax collector! I do everything right. I am so good!” Pat the Pharisee on the back and have everyone cheer for him or her.
But the tax collector stood far away from the Pharisee. Have the tax collector do this. The tax collector was ashamed of all the wrong things he’d done. He wouldn’t even look up to heaven when he prayed. He kept his eyes on the ground and beat his chest in despair. Have your tax collector kneel down, look at the ground, and beat his or her chest. The only thing he could pray was, “God, have mercy on me for I am a sinner!” Have the class remain silent for several seconds to think about the actions of the two men. Then thank your actors and have them return to their seats.
- Which prayer do you think pleased God? Why?
Say: Jesus went on to tell the people that the tax collector was the one who went home forgiven because he was humble. The Pharisee only wanted to praise himself instead of God.
How We Pray Matters
After the story, have the kids form pairs or trios and discuss the following questions. For the rest of this prayer activity, let children discuss each question for one minute, then have one or two groups report their answers before moving on to the next question.
- How do you think the tax collector felt when he went up to the Temple to pray at the same time as the Pharisee?
- What do you think Jesus was trying to teach us with this story?
- What kind of attitude should we have when we pray?
- What’s more important, what we say to God or the attitude we have when we say it? Why?
Say: Jesus told this story in the Bible so that we could understand how we should talk to God. The Bible helps us know how to pray.
This prayer activity was taken from Kids’ Travel Guide to the Lord’s Prayer. For even more children’s activities, check out these ideas!
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