Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

March 7, 2016

The Poor Box: Prayer for the Poor

Here are directions for a class prayer service for the poor. You will need a shoebox and slips of paper with the following Scripture reference, one per slip. Make enough slips so that each student has his or her own. It’s okay to repeat the Scripture references. Students should also have copies of their own bibles and a pencil. If possible, meet in a chapel for prayer. If not possible, dim the lights in your classroom to create a more suitable atmosphere for prayer.

Scripture Passages

  • Proverbs 13:7
  • Proverbs 14:21
  • Proverbs 19:1
  • Proverbs 22:2
  • Proverbs 28:27
  • Sirach 7:32
  • Sirach 13:21
  • Sirach 29:8
  • Sirach 31:8
  • Amos 2:7
  • 1 Samuel 2:7
  • Matthew 5:3
  • Matthew 19:21
  • Luke 12:15


Label the shoe box with the words “For the Poor” and place it in the center of the prayer space.

When all are assembled, say:

Secular society focuses on the “beautiful people” and selling an idyllic lifestyle where women are elegant and sensual and men are ruggedly handsome. Billions of dollars are spent each year to promote this persona which includes the sale or products.

Meanwhile, a poor box in a neighborhood parish takes in only a couple of hundred dollars or less on average. (Continue telling about a parish poor box: how the money is used and at least one personal story of a poor person or family who was aided by the parish.)

We all know people who are poor in one way or another: financially, emotionally, spiritually. Some of these people may be your peers.

I am going to pass out to you a prayer slip with a Scripture passage on it. Look up the passage in your bible and see how the words speak about people who are poor. When you get your slip, read the passage quietly and reflect on its meaning. Write the name of a person you would like to pray for on the back of the slip. Pray for someone who, unlike those targeted by the advertising industry and popular media, might never attract any attention.

Pass out a prayer slip to each student. Allow about five minutes for reflection. Then call for everyone’s attention in a common area. Call on a good reader to read aloud Luke 21:1-4 (The Poor Widow’s Contribution).

Next say:

I’m going to pass the poor box (shoe box) around the room. When it reaches you share a short prayer for the person whom you named on your slip. You can pray for the person by name (“For James and his troubles at home, we pray…”) or without naming him or her (“For my friend who is not getting along with her parents, we pray…”). Your response will be “Lord, hear us.” Or, when it is your turn, you can share an insight you gained from your Scripture passage.

Choose one person to begin the prayer by passing him or her the poor box.

After everyone has shared, collect the poor box and offer a final, closing prayer for all the poor of the world or play a song with lyrics that speak of paying special attention to the needs of the poor.

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