Introduction: At work do you sometimes feel you are the only one, or
just one of a few, who serve God? Do you feel that God has placed a
burden on you to reveal His greatness? Our study this week is about
how God partnered with Elijah to reveal God’s power and greatness.
This partnership involved prayer. Let’s jump in!

  1. The Problem

    1. Read 1 Kings 16:29-33. What kind of guy was Ahab?

      1. How bad was he? (Verse 33 tells us he did more to
        provoke God then all the Kings of Israel put

      2. What are some of the bad things that he did? (1. The
        sins of his predecessor kings were “nothing”
        (trivial) to him. To better understand the comparison
        to Jeroboam and his introduction of idol worship,
        read 1 Kings 12:26-30. 2. Ahab not only worshiped
        Baal, but he built an alter and temple to Baal – thus
        making Baal an institution! 3. He married Jezebel.)

        1. What was wrong with marrying Jezebel? Notice the
          name of her father, Ethbaal. Notice he has
          “Baal” incorporated in his name? Anyone know
          what this means? (Jezebel’s father is “Ethbaal.”
          His name means “With Baal.” Fausset tells us
          that Ethbaal was not only the King of Sidon, he
          was a priest of Baal! Keil and Delitzsch
          (“Keil”) tell us that Ethbaal killed his brother
          to become king of Sidon. Ahab marries the
          murdering Baal priest’s daugher! Baal was a
          Phoenician god and Baal worship had been a
          problem in Israel. Ahab now takes the problem to
          a new level.)

  2. The Challenge

    1. Read 1 Kings 17:1-3. What does God do to punish Ahab for
      his rebellion?

      1. Why not just kill Ahab? Or Jezebel?

      2. Keil reports that Baal was the “sun-god” and
        worshiped as “the generative and reproductive power
        of nature.” Why do you think God ordered a drought?
        (God is attacking Baal where he lives. He is
        attacking the very thing for which Baal is worshiped
        — the reproduction of nature.)

      3. Why did God tell Elijah to hide after he gave Ahab
        the message about the coming drought? (Ahab or
        Jezebel would have killed him. 1 Kings 18:4 tells us
        that after the drought began Jezebel tried to kill
        all of God’s prophets.)

    2. If you were to summarize God’s “Battle-plan,” how would
      you do it? (God is throwing down the gauntlet, issuing a
      challenge, to this false god.)

    3. Read 1 Kings 18:1-3, 5. How is the challenge going? How is
      Baal doing in keeping nature reproducing? (It is the third
      year of the drought, the famine is severe, and even King
      Ahab is having trouble finding water (grass) to keep his
      animals alive.)

      1. We see polls from time to time about the “confidence
        level” and “approval level” of the U.S. President.
        How are Baal’s confidence and approval ratings doing

      2. What does God tell Elijah to do?

        1. How would you like that assignment?

    4. Read 1 Kings 18:7-9. How does God arrange for Elijah to go
      see Ahab (who wants to kill him)? (Elijah runs into
      Obadiah, who is the man in charge of Ahab’s palace.
      Obadiah, we learned in verse 3, is a devout follower of

      1. Do you think Obadiah is telling others, especially
        his bosses (the King and Queen) about his religious
        beliefs? (Verse 9 makes it pretty clear that Obadiah
        is concerned that the wrong words might get him

      2. Is Obadiah a coward? Let’s read a verse we skipped
        before: 1 Kings 18:4. (This tells us that he had
        hidden 100 of God’s prophets from Jezebel and fed and
        watered them.)

        1. If you were Obadiah and were keeping 100
          prophets in water and food during a drought,
          would you worry about why the King (v.5) asked
          you to go out to help him find water?)

    5. Obadiah obeys and tells King Ahab where to find Elijah.
      Read 1 Kings 18:16-18. Is King Ahab repentant? Is Elijah

    6. Read 1 Kings 18:19-21. Does Ahab accept the showdown
      challenge on Mt. Carmel?

      1. Tell me how you think the prophets of Baal are
        feeling about now? What do you think Ahab and Jezebel
        have been saying to them the last three years? What
        do you think they have been saying back?

      2. After three years of drought, do the people
        enthusiastically turn to God? (Not one person said
        they would choose God! At best the people have a
        “wait and see attitude.” It seems that only Elijah
        has some confidence about this challenge. (Perhaps he
        is the only one with the courage to say so.))

    7. Read 1 Kings 18:23-25. Now we hear from the people! Do
      they think the challenge is fair?

      1. Why do they not answer in v.21, but answer now? (The
        do not have faith. They want to be shown. How much
        better to have answered in verse 21. Once again, we
        see how longsuffering God is towards us.)

      2. Why does Elijah (v.25)let the prophets of Baal choose
        which bull they prefer? (He doesn’t want to hear any
        complaints later about him taking the inflammable

      3. Do you think the prophets of Baal were equally
        enthusiastic about the fairness of this challenge?

  3. The Victory and the Prayers

    1. Look at 1Kings 18:25 again. Elijah says the prophets of
      Baal can go first because there are so many of them. Does
      this make any sense to you? (Yes, for a couple of reasons.
      He can better keep an eye on them. If he goes first, they
      might be sneaking in fire while he is working. Second, if
      he goes first and God sends the fire, their failure will
      not be so dramatic. Elijah is certain of his God!)

    2. Read 1 Kings 18:26-29. How did the prophets of Baal pray
      to their god? (They shouted. They prayed continually.
      They danced to get his attention. They slashed themselves
      as some sort of “works-thing” to show they were worthy.
      Their blood flowed. They were frantic.)

      1. Do you some times pray to the God of heaven in this

      2. What do you think about Elijah’s suggestions in verse
        27? Is our God sometimes traveling, distracted or
        sleeping? (The point is that our God is not like any
        human – who could be “off the clock” for some period
        of time. If He does not answer us in the way we want,
        it is not because of some fault of His.)

    3. Read 1 Kings 18:30-32. The prophets of Baal have all day
      to get their god to answer. He does not. So, Elijah begins
      first by repairing the altar of the Lord. What do we learn
      about the people in this? What do we learn about our
      prayers in this? (We learn they had not been sacrificing
      to the Lord. We learn that prayer involves approaching God
      in the way He has commanded. God had special instructions
      about how His altar was to be built. See Joshua 8:30-31.)

    4. Read 1 Kings 18:33-35. Why do you think Elijah ordered
      this? (He didn’t want any later accusations of fraud. He
      wanted people to be talking in their homes and the gates
      of their cities about what a wonder God had performed.)

    5. Read 1 Kings 18:36-37. Let’s look at Elijah’s prayer.

      1. Why do you think he starts “God of Abraham, Isaac and
        Jacob?” (He was showing God’s history with His
        people. He was their true, historic God – not some
        Phoenician interloper.)

      2. Why do you think he prayed, “Let it be known today
        that you are God” as opposed to “Prove today that you
        are God?” (Getting the question right is critical to
        every discussion. The question was not whether
        Jehovah was God in Israel, the question was whether
        He would reveal that fact to these people.)

      3. Why does Elijah also say reveal “I am your servant
        and have done these things at your command?” (He
        wants his “agency” to be clear. After all, Elijah’s
        life is on the line here. He wants the King, Queen
        and people to understand who he represents. I think
        he is also promoting obedience.)

      4. We have seen that this contest is a challenge to
        reveal who is the true God. What does verse 37 tell
        us is another reason for this challenge? (To turn the
        hearts of the people back to the true God. The goal
        of our God is to have our hearts!)

      5. How would you compare the prayers of the prophets of
        Baal (vv.26-29) with Elijah’s prayer to God?

    6. Read 1 Kings 18:38. How does God answer? Elijah does not
      have a lot of “fanfare” in his prayer. Does God modestly
      answer? (No! He not only burns up the bull and the water,
      He burns up the stones and the ground!)

      1. Is that our God? The One who does “immeasurably more
        than all we ask or imagine?” Ephesians 3:20

        1. Are you saying right now, “That doesn’t happen
          to me?” Let’s read Ephesians 3:20. What
          determines the magnitude of God’s answer to our
          prayers? (“His power that is at work within

        2. What do we need to pray for? (That God will put
          His full power at work within us!)

    7. Friend, do you sometimes feel that God is losing the
      battle for the hearts and minds of your co-workers and
      your family? Do you want His great power to be revealed
      through your partnership with Him? Why not pray for His
      full power to be at work within your life?

  4. Next week: Prayers of Desperation: Hezekiah