Sunday, February 26, 2017

Enjoy a Simple Service Activity for the Start of Lent: Pretzel Prayer Pals (with FREE Printable!)

It's no secret that my children enjoy secret acts of service such as passing on the love of St. Nicholas in December, egging people before or after Easter, and, most recently, "Love Bucketing" others between St. Valentine's Day and Lent.  Thus, I suggested to a friend that we guide our children in a simple Pretzel Prayer Pals activity this Lent, where the children can pick a person to be a secret prayer pal for - or one to pray for openly - and can let the person know they are being prayed for through the gift of a bag of 40 pretzels and a card.

My friend loved the Pretzel Prayer Pals idea, so I said I would create a set of printables for us to use.  I did that, today, and am quite pleased with how they came out.

What's in the Free Printable Set?

For the FREE printable Pretzel Prayer Pals set, I wrote up a brief history of the story of pretzels called Pretzels, Prayer and the Lenten Season.  This one-page history describes how some people say that the word pretzel comes from a Latin word meaning "little arms" (folded in a prayer position) while others think it from a Latin word meaning "little reward" (because children were once said to be rewarded for prayers with pretzels.)  The history also encourages readers to recall the idea of pretzels as reminders to pray (as well as to fast and give).  It is meant to be given to the children's Pretzel Prayer Partners.

Also in the set is a poem I wrote that goes like this:

About 1500 years ago, it is said 
A monk made prayer arms out of bread. 
They were the first pretzels and still today 
Pretzels can serve as a reminder to pray. 
A reminder and, sometimes, a promise, too, 
As is the case with this gift for you. 
Indeed, each pretzel in this bag represents 
A prayer that I’ll offer for you this Lent.

This poem is meant to be attached to a bag of 40 pretzels that will be given to the person each child commits to praying for

Then, as a nod to the idea of pretiola (little rewards), I wrote a shorter poem that goes like this:

Before I eat this pretzel 
I fold my arms to pray 
That my Lenten Prayer Pal 
May be blessed today

That way, children can fill a bag of pretzels for themselves, too, which will act as a reminder and an accounting tool for them as they pray 40 times for their Lenten Prayer Pal.  I also made a version of this poem with a blank line in the place of the words "my Lenten Prayer Pal" so that children who wish to write their pal's name down can.

Finally, I wrote another version of the "accounting" poem that goes like this:

For each of these pretzels
I fold my arms to pray 
That my Lenten Prayer Pal 
May be blessed today

My thought is that this poem does not mention eating and, so, children whose parents do not wish them to eat pretzels, can use it by crossing off pictured pretzels near the poem.

The simplest way to use these printables, of course, is simply to print the history and poems, cut them out, and tape them to bags filled with 40 pretzels each.  That is exactly what my daughter did when testing out our activity (whereupon I found errors in the printables and, promptly, fixed them before sharing with you and our friends.)

You could also get fancier by laminating the poems or gluing them to cardstock and then stringing pretzels on a purple ribbon.  Or, you could print out fine religious art (like that shared at Art & Theology) and let your children go to town with the poem, cardstock, pretzel art images, markers, glitter, or whatever you like to make cards to be gifted with pretzel bags. 

Recommended Reads 

{Disclosure:  Some links which follow are affiliate ones.}

My children and I will be enjoying three picture books this year in connection to our Pretzel Prayer Pal project, too.'s+little+reward&linkCode=ll1&tag=traihapphear-20&linkId=ac1c8e08ecb4b60653c01775e432fd94

Brother Giovanni's Little Reward tells the story of how children learned to pray with pretzel rewards.

Pretzels by the Dozen tells the history of pretzels in rhyming text, focuses children on the Trinity symbolism of the pretzel, and offers a recipe, too.

Walter the Baker is a popular Eric Carle book that has little to do with prayer but makes for a fun pretzel-related read.

Of course, while we read these books, the children will enjoy some gluten-free Gratify pretzels, too, as I have yet to try my hand a making homemade gluten-free pretzels.  (Your tried-and-true recipe suggestions for doing so are most welcome!)

You might also enjoy seeing prayer pretzel traditions and activities that others, like Tracy from A Slice of Smith Life have enjoyed.

I pray you and yours have a meaningful start to Lent and, if you wish, take on a Pretzel Prayer Pal or two as part of your efforts to pray, fast, and give.

This post was shared at the 40 Days of Seeking Him Link up


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