THE STORY OF ELIJAH
Prayers for God’s Power
You will find the story of Elijah in the book of 1 Kings. Please read
1 Kings 17:7-24 and 18:16-46.
Some points of interest to remind the children of:
-This story is found in the Old Testament.
-The people of Israel had been ruled by kings for many years and many of
these kings had been evil. God was unhappy with how the people were
living and he sent his prophet, Elijah, to talk to them.
-A prophet is someone who speaks what God tells him or her to say.
The messages they give are not their own ideas, but are words that God
gives them to say.
-The story actually begins a little earlier when God sends a drought to the
land because he is so unhappy with the people. Elijah had been living
out in the desert where there was a brook with drinking water and where
God had sent ravens to bring him food.
-Eventually the brook also dries up and God tells Elijah to go to the home
of a widow who will give him food.
-When Elijah arrives at the town of Zarephath, he sees the widow
gathering sticks and asks her to get him some water and some bread.
She replies that she only has a handful of flour and a little oil and is just
gathering sticks so she can bake this last bit of bread as a final meal for
her son and herself.
-Elijah then tells her not to be afraid, but to make a small cake for him and
one for herself and her son, but that God has spoken and the flour and oil
will not be used up until God sends rain again.
-This widow was faithful and did as Elijah had said and everyday there
was food enough for the three of them.
-Some time later, the woman’s son became ill. After growing worse, he
finally stopped breathing. The widow was very distraught, thinking that
Elijah was the cause of this horrible event.
-Elijah asked for her son and took him from her arms. He took the dead
boy up to the room where he was staying and laid him on the bed. Then
Elijah prayed. He prayed that God would send the boy’s life back to him.
God heard Elijah and answered him and the boy was brought back to life
by the power of God.
-When Elijah brought the boy back to his mother, the woman could see
that Elijah was a man of God and doubtless was amazed by the power
-Elijah prayed and God answered.
-The story continues in 1 Kings 18, beginning at verse 18. Just prior to
this, Elijah had appeared to Obadiah, a faithful believer in God, and told
him to go to the evil king Ahab. Obadiah was to tell Ahab that Elijah was
coming to speak to him. This would not have made Ahab very happy. He
did not care for Elijah because Elijah told Ahab things he did not want to
hear. Ahab’s own wife, Jezebel, was so angry at what God’s prophets
had been saying that she had ordered all of them killed.
-Elijah arrives at the palace and receives a less than welcome response
from Ahab. He accuses Elijah of being the troubler of Israel. But Elijah
responds that Ahab and his family are the real cause of all the trouble in
Israel. He also orders Ahab to summon all the people and the prophets
of Baal to meet him at Mount Carmel.
-When everyone had arrived, Elijah asked the people who they were going
to follow – God, or Baal? They had no answer.
-Elijah told them that he was the only prophet left of God’s, but that Baal
had 450 prophets. Then he offered a challenge. They would offer
sacrifices and see which god responded with fire.
-Elijah told the prophets of Baal to choose a bull and cut it into little pieces
and place it on their altar.
-Then Elijah told the prophets of Baal to begin praying. For at least four
hours they prayed and nothing happened. They began dancing around
the altar and nothing happened.
-Elijah began to tease them saying, “Shout louder!” He told them that
perhaps Baal was busy, or traveling, or deep in thought, or sleeping.
They cut themselves with swords, hoping to get Baal’s attention but there
was no answer.
-Afternoon turned to evening and still there was no response from Baal.
-Finally, it was Elijah’s turn. He called the people of Israel to him and he
began to repair the Lord’s altar. He took twelve stones for the twelve
tribes of Israel and built the altar. Then he dug a large trench around the
altar. He arranged the wood on the altar and cut his bull into pieces and
put it on the altar. Then he called to some of the people to fill four large
jars with water and pour it all over the wood and the offering.
-The people filled the jars two more times. There was so much water that
it ran down the sides of the altar and filled the trench. There really was
no way that a fire could burn this sacrifice. It was much too wet, even if
Elijah had tried to start the fire himself.
-But then Elijah began to pray:
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today
that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have
done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord,
answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God,
and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
-And the fire of God fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones,
the soil and even the water in the trench! God had answered. And not
just with a little smoke or a flickering flame, but with a fire so powerful
and so consuming that it even dried up the water!
-Elijah had prayed that God would show his power to the people so that
they would also know what he could do in their hearts, despite their
having turned away from him for so long.
-The people replied, “The Lord – he is God! The Lord – he is God!”
-And finally, God sent rain again to the earth.
Following are some key themes and teaching points to use with the children. These themes should be reinforced as often as possible as they travel to each class.
-God will use us to show how powerful he is.
When there was a drought and there was no food left in the
widow’s house, God sent Elijah to show her that this was not
too large a problem for God.
And then when the widow’s son died, God again used Elijah
to show God is more powerful than death. Elijah did not bring
the little boy back to life – his faithful prayers to God and God’s
power, brought the little boy back.
And when the hearts of the people of Israel needed to be
turned back to God, he again used Elijah to show how powerful
he is. Elijah didn’t pray that he be able to start the fire, but that God
would start the fire so that the people would know that he is God.
God wants to work through us, especially if it is in such a way that
will show others who he is and what he can do.
-God is always there, always listening.
Elijah made fun of Baal. He told the prophets, “Maybe he’s
sleeping, or busy, or on vacation. Our God is always here for us.
He never sleeps, he is never too busy, and he is certainly never on
vacation. God is always waiting to hear from us and he wants to
-God always answers our prayers.
God answered Elijah’s prayers in pretty spectacular ways. And
sometimes God still does that. Lots of people recover from
illness and injury who should have died. Many more people
survive catastrophes than are harmed by them. But many of
us are in the business of praying different kinds of prayers.
Don’t think that just because God doesn’t send fire down onto
our altars that he isn’t answering. He may be answering in a
quieter way, or with a “No”, or with a “Wait a while”, or even with
a question, “Is that a prayer that will bring me glory or will show
others who I am?”
God always answers, we just have to learn how to hear.
*Remember that many of these themes are somewhat abstract and that for the younger children, we are simply getting them familiar with different Bible stories. However, with this background behind them, think of how much more meaningful the themes and lessons will become as they get older and grow in their faith!
Thank you again for sharing your gifts with the children this month. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at church (786-7778) or at home
(786-6581) or call your group leader