01 Oct

The God Contest

Passage: 1 Kings 18:20-39

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”  — Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk 


We are made to worship and everyone worships something. What do you observe people commonly worshiping around you in your daily life? (What are common answers to what we want most in life?)

Read 1 Kings 18:20-39. What do you observe about God from this passage? What does this story teach us about who God is and what he cares about?

What does idolatry look like in this passage? What are the similarities and differences with how we see idolatry today?

An idol is anything (even something good) that we consider ultimate for ourselves other than God. How do we discern when something has become an idol in our lives?

Elijah challenges the Baal prophets to a contest – a call to the people to make up their minds about who the real God is. Describe the differences between the Baal side and Yahweh side (consider geography, number of prophets, prayer, behavior, emotion, popularity). What were the expectations of this contest?

What does living resilient faith look like in this story?

The fire that came in this story revealed God as real and true, so that the people could live, fully enjoying life with God. Read Luke 9:51-56. In this passage Jesus is headed to Jerusalem – to his death on the cross. How does Jesus reveal he is God, really and truly, so that we can live, fully enjoying life with God?

What do we need to remember, rejoice in, request, or repent of from this passage?


Spend time praying for God’s forgiveness and a readiness to extend it to others. Ask God for grateful hearts to see his goodness and receive his mercy. Enjoy the truth that God knows you fully and loves you deeply.

Share with your group how they can be praying for you: what is weighing on you from this past week? What are you praising God for from this past week?

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   Deuteronomy 6:4-7