Attitude in Prayer

Primary Pals for Teachers
Unit 30 - Jesus Teaches Us to Pray

TEXT: Luke 18:9-14


The students will be able to contrast proud and humble attitudes in prayer, recognizing that this determines whether or not the prayer is acceptable to God.


Introduction: Distribute large pretzels to each of your class members, either purchased ones or homemade. Before they begin eating the treat, tell them to study the shape and relate the traditional legend about it. (Refer to In-Class Activity which gives the legend.) Conclude by saying that we do not know whether this is true, but we do know the way we pray is very important.

  1. Jesus gave a parable of two men who came to the Temple to pray, a Pharisee and a publican.
  2. The Pharisee told the Lord how good he was and what he had done for the Lord. He prayed in a way that would attract attention to himself.
  3. The publican humbly acknowledged his sinful life and pleaded for mercy.

Climax: The Lord said the publican was justified rather than the Pharisee.

Conclusion: We cannot expect to receive anything from God if we come with the wrong attitude, boasting of our "good works."

Response: The students will be able to retell the story of the Pharisee and the publican. They should know that we must come to the Lord humbly if we expect to receive anything from Him.


The lesson on the Prodigal Son is a very well-known parable of the Lord. The Lord used the parable as a means of bringing out truths He was trying to portray. While Christ was not the first to use parables, He is the only one in the New Testament that used them. The Thompson Bible lists 38 parables that Jesus gave. Some are didactic parables—given to teach a lesson. Some are evangelical, which includes the parable of the Prodigal Son. Others are prophetic and judicial parables.

The story of the Prodigal Son was one which should have been rather easily understood. It was a custom in the East from ancient times for a son to receive his inheritance while his father was still living. The story lets the young man fall to the very bottom of social standing. To be a swineherd would have been detestable to a Jew. When he analyzed his condition, he realized that the servants in his father's house were much better off than he was. He was willing to return to his father and humble himself and confess his wrongdoing. His father welcomed him back and put on him the best robe (one used for festive occasions) and a ring on his finger (a designation of authority) and had a feast prepared. This is a very beautiful story illustrating how the heavenly Father welcomes home the sinner who repents, and makes him one of the family of God.


  • Make a prayer mobile (see Patterns) showing the way God might see a group of people while they pray. Their eyes are closed but God knows who means what they say. You can't deceive God. Copy the proud faces onto orange paper and the humble faces onto blue paper. Give each child five humble faces, five proud faces, string, and two straws or popsicle sticks. Let them put these together to make a mobile.
  • Make a tape of the Pharisee's and the publican's prayers to let the children hear the difference in the two. Then, on the same tape, give some up-to-date examples of humble and proud statements made in prayer and in the name of Jesus. Let the children guess whether each of the persons speaking sounds humble or proud.
  • Here is a fun project for your class. Tell them the story of the pretzel. Many years ago, people crossed their arms across their breasts to show a humble attitude in prayer. It is thought that the pretzel was made to represent the arms crossed in prayer. The name pretzel is an adaptation of a German name. Talk to the students about the way some people pray. Explain to them that whether people fold their hands, cross their arms, raise their arms, etc., it doesn't really matter as long as the heart's attitude is right. Jesus sees the heart. Make some soft pretzels ahead of time as a treat for your class.

    1 loaf frozen bread dough (thawed)
    1 teaspoon soda
    1 egg (lightly beaten)
    large grained salt
    Cut and shape dough into about twelve 18-inch strips. Twist into shapes shown in pattern (see Patterns). Add baking soda to a pan of rapidly boiling water. Place pretzels into water one at a time. Boil one minute then remove and drain. Place the pretzels on a well-greased baking sheet. Spread lightly-beaten egg on the pretzels with fingers and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

Special Instructions for Unit 30: Give your students the Prayer Power Project for this week: Code Prayer


  1. To whom do we pray?
  2. What kinds of prayers will God answer?
  3. Whose prayers will God answer?
  4. Why do we call praying "talking to God"?
  5. How should we act when we pray? Should we be silly, sad, serious, loud, soft?
  6. Since God already knows all about us, do you think He likes to hear us brag how good we are when we pray?
  7. How should we pray at the altar?
  8. Should children who go to church feel that they are better than other children?


  • Have each student lay his hand on a large piece of paper which has been folded in half. Have them lay their little finger along the folded edge. Trace around the hand and wrist. Cut out the hands so they can open and close. The children will have their own praying hands. Talk about prayer as you are doing this project.
  • Use a picture of Jesus as you tell the children the story He told us about attitude in prayer. He said God would answer our prayers if we were humble. Have pictures of things from magazines that we might want to pray about, such as food, grandparents, sick child, other family members.
  • With finger puppets, demonstrate different attitudes in various situations: thankful/unthankful for gift; happy/ bored playing with friends; etc. Explain that Jesus talked about a special time when our attitude is most important. That is in prayer. Jesus knows our real feelings, we can't hide them from Him.


Make several different finished kites to show as you relate this example. Make one unfinished kite (a piece of paper shaped like a kite but only decorated with pretty pictures). Explain that kites have been used in many ways. Benjamin Franklin used them to experiment with electricity and lightning. Kites have been used to record the temperature of clouds and in advertising to attract attention. Some people have used kites in place of prayer. The Chinese have a day each year when everyone flies kites. They think this will protect their homes, families and loved ones from evil things. We know a mere kite couldn't scare away demons. Some Japanese boys think that to fly a kite made in the form of a fish over their house, on a special boys' day, will make them become brave, courageous, and strong. But we know it takes more than a kite to do all of this. Explain that even though a kite is usually made of paper and sticks, just any paper or sticks won't do if it is going to fly. Some kites look right but aren't balanced right, or their sticks are too heavy, or the paper is not right. Compare this to praying. Even though we use words when we pray, they must be balanced with the right attitude. Words alone don't make a prayer. We must follow the plan of God's Holy Word, when we seek Him in prayer.

Have two men teachers reenact the Bible story of the two men who were praying in the Temple. Later ask the children if they know which man's prayer was heard and why.

Stage an on-the-spot interview of the Pharisee and the publican as they leave the Temple after their prayers. Ask each man, "What did you say to God? Do you think He heard you? How do you feel now? Should you have done differently?" etc. Ask your students if they know what made the difference between the two prayers.


  • Prayers for Little People by Sarah Fletcher
  • Angeleque Musical Praying Doll (Russ)