All-Age Service Plan: Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
A service to help children and adults alike recognise the miraculous power of God.
Prayer / Worship Activity
Option 1 10 MINS
You will need some lining paper taped to the floor, running from the front to the back of the hall or church, so that everyone can access it easily. You will also need some pens. Read Isaiah 9:6:
‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’
Ask the congregation to shout out some more names of God, e.g. King of Kings, Father, Almighty. Give space for people to shout these names out. Explain that you know it is hard sometimes to shout out in front of everyone, but now everyone can have a go and write, or draw, different names for God on the paper.
Option 2 5 MINS
Ask everyone to stand in height order (some of the children may want to keep their parents with them). Thank God for putting us in a family – from the smallest to the tallest. Encourage people to turn to the person on their left and put their hand on their shoulder while thanking God for them. Repeat this with the person on the right.
You are going to tell the story in 1 Kings 18 with plenty of dramatic expression. Before you start, split the congregation into two. One half are to be the Prophets of Baal. One half are to be the Israelites. Encourage some competition between the two groups (this may become noisy!). When you are telling the story, you will want the Israelites to ‘boo’ and ‘hiss’ when you say ‘Ahab’ or ‘Prophets of Baal’, and to cheer when you say ‘Elijah’. You will also need the two groups to be involved in acting out parts of the story.
Next, set up two tables at the front. On each table have some chopped wood, some stones and some meat (you can use toy plastic meat if that is easier). Elijah’s altar will also need a spade and a jug of water (you might need to cover the floor with a towel). You will need an assistant to build the altars while you tell the story.
1 Kings 18.
Instructions are in italics
King Ahab was a bad king. He was so nasty that he murdered someone just so he could own their vineyard! He was weak and did whatever his evil wife, Jezebel, told him to do. Ahab didn’t worship the Lord. Oh no. He worshipped Baal, the god of the Canaanites.
Ahab hated Elijah, the prophet, with a passion. He knew Elijah loved God and he knew, deep down that Elijah was right. That’s why he hated him. He hated him so much that he wanted to kill him! That’s a lot of hate! One day, Ahab went to meet Elijah. Elijah knew Ahab hated him. He was rather brave, don’t you think?
‘Hello Elijah!’ sneered Ahab, ‘Is it really you, the biggest troublemaker in the whole of Israel?’
Elijah told it to him straight. ‘I have not caused trouble in Israel. You and your father’s family have caused all this trouble. You haven’t obeyed the Lord’s commands but instead you’ve followed Baal. Now, tell all Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel. And while you’re at it, bring the 450 prophets of Baal.’
Ahab was so shocked that Elijah had spoken to him in such a way, that he did as the prophet said. He gathered all Israel, and the prophets of Baal to the mountain.
Elijah stood up before all the people and shouted: ‘How long will you try to serve both Baal and the Lord? If the Lord is the true God, follow Him. But if Baal is the true God, follow him!’
The people were dumbfounded. They stared at him in silence. Nobody had ever challenged them like this before! Elijah continued: ‘I am the only prophet of the Lord standing here but there are 450 prophets of Baal. Bring 2 bulls. Let the prophets of Baal choose one bull, kill it and cut it into pieces. Put the meat on the wood, but don’t set fire to it. Then, I will do the same with the other bull. Then you, prophets of Baal, pray to your god. I will pray to the Lord. The God who answers the prayer will set fire to his wood. That will show us who the true God really is.’
Well, the people nodded in amazement. What a great idea! Now they can really see who they should be following!
The prophets of Baal went first. They chose their bull and prepared it for the sacrifice. They placed it on the wood and prayed. Then they prayed, and they prayed some more.
They prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. Prophets of Baal can drop to their knees to plead with their god. But there was no fire. They shouted and shouted and shouted and shouted. Prophets of Baal can shout. Still no fire. They did silly dance after silly dance after silly dance around the pile of wood. If you are brave enough, play a short section of ‘Gangnam Style’ for the Prophets of Baal to dance to. Still no fire.
Elijah, watching all of this commotion began to chuckle to himself. ‘Pray louder,’ he called to the prophets, ‘Maybe your god is busy, or maybe he’s asleep or having a wee!’ Israelites laugh.
The prophets prayed louder and louder and louder and louder. They were wild with desperation. But still, no fire came from their god. Their voices were not heard. Baal did not answer. No-one paid any attention.
Exhausted, they slumped to the ground in defeat. Prophets of Baal can sigh deeply. Elijah gathered the people around him. He rebuilt the altar with 12 stones and some wood. He dug a ditch around the altar and, after placing the meat onto it, he poured water all over it. Three times they poured jugs of water over the altar. The wood was sodden and the water ran over the top of the ditch he had built.
The people gasped. How would the fire be started now? Everyone knows water puts fires out!
Elijah, trusting in his God, went quietly over to the altar and prayed.
‘Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I ask you now to prove to these people that you are the God of Israel, and that I am your servant. Lord, answer my prayer. Show these people that you, Lord, are God. Then they will know that you are bringing them back to you.’
He didn’t do silly dances or shout loudly. He simply prayed to his God.
At that moment, and to the people’s utter amazement, fire from the Lord swept down and burnt up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the ground near the altar. The water, far from being a problem, was totally dried up. Your assistant can stand behind the altar and use red, orange and yellow material to create a fire effect. You can also give yellow, red and orange crepe paper to the ‘Israelites’ who can wave it at this moment.
When all the people saw this, they fell down onto their knees in amazement. ‘The Lord really is God’ they cried, ‘The Lord is God!’ Both Prophets of Baal and Israelites to fall on knees.
The prophets of Baal’s knees knocked in terror! They tried to run as fast as they could. Prophets of Baal stamp feet.
‘Capture them!’ Elijah shouted.
The people of Israel chased the prophets, captured them and killed every one of them! Israelites can shoot prophets of Baal with foam dart guns.
Reflective Response to Story
Option 1 8 MINS
Place the red, yellow and orange material used in the story in the middle of the room. Spread it out as much as possible so that everyone can see it and feel it. Give everyone paper and pens, and ask them to draw or write their response to the following statements. When they have done it, they can throw it on the ‘fire’ in the middle. Give everyone a small amount of time for their response, but be aware that children do not have the same concentration span as adults!
~~ God of Elijah, you are awesome
~~ Nothing is impossible for you
~~ Thank you for giving us courage when we need it
~~ Mighty God, when we don’t always see or understand what you are doing, help us to trust you
~~ God, let us see more of your incredible power in our own lives
Option 2 5 MINS
Give everyone a small log or piece of wood. (You can use a wooden lolly stick if this is easier.) Encourage them to think about which part of the story jumped out at them the most. For example, perhaps it was a particular character that they identified with? Maybe they are asking God to show his power in a specific area of their lives and want to see a victory like Elijah. Perhaps they are wondering if they are pleading to the wrong god, like the prophets of Baal. Ask them to draw or write this on the wood. If you are really brave you could use paint for the larger pieces of wood. Encourage parents to help children with this concept.
Group discussion questions 7 MINS
Split the congregation into smaller mixed age groups. Encourage adults to include children in the discussions and to explain any difficult words. While the discussions are going on, give smaller children (aged one to three, but be flexible) a pack with orange, red and yellow crepe paper, glue sticks and card for them to make a fire collage whilst sitting in the group with everyone else.
~~What was your favourite part of the story?
~~ I wonder how Elijah felt when he had to face Ahab, who wanted to kill him?
~~Why did Elijah pour water on his altar?
~~ How did the Prophets of Baal feel when they saw the fire coming on Elijah’s altar?
~~What do you think this story is about?