Two Men Praying

Proper 25C / Ordinary 30C

Luke 18:9-14


  • Narrator – reads
  • Rod – puppet or person dressed in posh clothes
  • Andy – puppet or person dressed in ordinary clothes


  • Handkerchiefs, one crumpled and one clean


Narr:       Hello everyone. I’ve got a story for you today. Would you like to hear a story?

Rod enters

Rod:        What? What was that? A story? Can I listen too?

Narr:       Of course you can. It’s a story that Jesus told, about two man who went to pray, one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

Rod:        A Who-isee and a What-alector?

Narr:       Oh sorry. A Pharisee was someone who was very religious and was very careful to do everything right. The tax collector was a cheat who took more money than he was supposed to.

Rod:        Oh, I see. You can get on with the story now.

Narr:       Jesus told this story: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.

              The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, cheats, or, heaven forbid, like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give money to charity.’

              “Meanwhile the tax collector, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, have mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

              Jesus commented, “This tax collector, not the Pharisee, went home made right with God.

Rod:        Huh? I don’t get it. Why was God not pleased with the man who did all the good stuff?

And why was God pleased with the man who had been cheating? That can’t be right!

Narr:       Hmmn, yes. I see why you’re puzzled. I tell you what – let’s act it out.

Rod exits

Narr:       Once upon a time there were two men who went to church to pray.

One was a very good man who went to church every week and did lots of good stuff. His name was Mr Good-Stuff. Here he is.

Rod enters

Rod:        I’m Mr Good-Stuff and I’m very, very, very, very, very GOOD!

Narr:       Yes, Mr Good-Stuff was very good. But he wasn’t very clever. He thought that God would love him because of all the good stuff that he did.

The other man was not so good. He tried to do what God wanted but he kept getting it wrong and he knew that he did rubbish stuff every day. His name was Mr Rubbish.

Andy enters, hanging head

Andy:      I’m Mr Rubbish, and even though I want to be good, like Mr Good-Stuff over there, I end up thinking nasty things, or being selfish, or being mean to people and it’s all just so RUBBISH!

Narr:       Mr Rubbish did not feel happy. He didn’t really want to be in church because he thought that God would not like him because of the rubbish things he did.

So there they were – Mr Good-Stuff and Mr Rubbish – and they both came to talk to God. Mr Good-Stuff prayed like this:

Rod:        Oh God, thank you that I am so good and such a nice person and that I do lots and lots and lots of good things. I do not steal or lie or keep my library books overdue, and I’m certainly nothing like Mr Rubbish. You must be so pleased with me because of all the good stuff that I do. Amen

Narr:       Mr Rubbish, however, could not even lift his face up, but wept … Andy blows his nose … he wept … Andy blows his nose … I said he wept because of all the rubbish things he had done. He prayed like this:

Andy:      Dear God, I am so sorry for all the rubbish in my life. Please have mercy on me and make me clean. Amen

Narr:       Now, Mr Good-Stuff thought that God would like him because he did lots of good stuff, but in truth no-one can do enough good stuff to earn God’s love. So Mr Good-Stuff went home still righteous in his own eyes, but not in God’s.

Rod exits

Mr Rubbish, however, knew he could not earn God’s love, so instead he asked for it. And God, who loves to forgive, wiped away all the rubbish from his life, gave him a clean hanky and a new name, Mr Clean.

So Mr Clean went home knowing that he and God were good friends.

Andy does a little dance and exits

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