Lesson: Elijah and the Sacrificial Altar

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God sends fire when Elijah prays
This free lesson plan is designed for your children’s church or Sunday School. It tells the story from 1 Kings 18 where Elijah stands up to the false prophets of Ahab. These dramatic events show that only the LORD is the true God. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for other readers using this lesson, please leave your comments below.

Lesson Title:   Elijah and the Sacrificial Altar
Bible Reference: 1 Kings 18:16-39, Luke 18:27
Target Age Group: Elementary
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: One Hour
Image Credits:  Sweet Publishing and Distant Shores Media

Memory Verse: “But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
Life Connection: In this passage Elijah challenges Ahab to a contest to see whose God can send fire to light an altar.  The prophets of Baal try desperately to call on their blasphemous God, but he does not answer them.  Elijah calls on God and God answers him.  However, Elijah did not just expect God to work a miracle whenever Elijah called on Him.  Elijah understood the importance of preparing for God to work in wonderful ways and planned everything that he needed to do carefully.  Likewise, we need to be prepared and ready for God to use us to accomplish His purposes.
Learning Aim: 

  1. Children will learn to be confident in the Lord’s ability to great things.
  2. Children will learn that we need to carefully plan our time so that God can use us.
  3. Children will learn that they cannot save people, only God can.

Basic Supply List:

  1. Bible
  2. Building Blocks
  3. Index cards
  4. Markers, crayons, pencils, etc.

Note: In the teaching plan below the words in italics are meant to be read aloud. The regular text is simply directions for the teacher.
> > > > Basic Teaching Plan < < < <
Introduction:  Begin the lesson displaying the Bible Verse, Luke 18:27 “But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Ask the children what they think this verse means and give them adequate time to respond.  Say, Today we are going to learn about a wonderful and amazing thing that God did through a man named Elijah.  Elijah loved God and was willing to let God use him.  Elijah trusted that God would do what he said he would do.  Let’s read about Elijah.
Biblical Evidence: Begin the lesson by reading 1 Kings 18:16-21.  Say, Elijah was not well-liked in Ahab’s kingdom.  Many people in the kingdom did not follow God and they thought that Elijah was a nuisance.  Elijah could have been afraid, but he wasn’t because he knew that God was on his side.  Elijah had a plan to show the people of Ahab’s kingdom that God was the only true God.  Both sides would build and altar and call on their God to light it on fire.  Only the real God would be able to do this.  Whichever God did this was the one and only true God.  Elijah was not nervous about making this bet because he knew that his God would answer him when he called on him. 
Next read 18:20-35.  Say, During this part of the story the prophets of Baal are disappointed when their God does not answer them.  Elijah spends his time getting his altar ready for the Lord.  He carefully prepared the altar and made the task seemingly impossible by drenching it with water.  Elijah was confident that the Lord would answer him and send fire to the altar but Elijah knew that he had work to do too.  He had to carefully prepare the altar so that God could take over.  Elijah had to do his part, but only God could actually make the fire come to life and prove that He is the true God. 
Last read 18:36-39. Say, This is it.  Elijah prays that the hearts of the people would be changed and answers Elijah.  The altar is set on fire and the people proclaim that the Lord is God.  This would have been impossible for Elijah to do on his own, but with God it became possible.
Ask, Now, what do you think we should do if we want our friends to know about Jesus?  Do you think we can save people?  No only God can save people, but we need to be prepared and read for Him to use us.
Being Prepared:  As a class, make a plan that the students can use to be prepared to share the gospel with others and be used by God.  Some of things that they can do is read their Bibles and memorize verses to share, pray for God to use them, and think about people who they can share the gospel with.  Encourage them to ask questions if they don’t understand something.  When you are finished discussing these plans pray that God would use these children like he used Elijah. 
Bookmarks:  Give each child a blank bookmark (I think that index cards work just fine for this).  Have the children copy the Bible verse onto the bookmark and decorate it using whatever materials are available.  Encourage them to put the bookmark somewhere that they will see it often and be reminded that God can use them to amazing things. 
Building the Story: Write the events of the story on blocks.  You will need two sets of the blocks.  Divide the class into two teams.  Challenge the teams to work together to build a tower with the events in the correct order.  The first team to build the tower correctly wins.
Here are the events:

  1. Ahab and Elijah meet.
  2. Elijah accuses Ahab of abandoning God and following Baal.
  3. Ahab brings all the prophets of Baal together on Mount Carmel.
  4. Elijah challenges the prophets to build an altar to Baal and he will build an altar to God.
  5. The prophets of Baal cry out to him but Baal does not answer.
  6. Elijah builds his altar to the Lord and drenches it with water.
  7. Elijah prays to God.
  8. God sets the altar on fire.
  9. The fire consumes the altar, even the water in the trenches.
  10. All of the people declare that God is the one true king.

Conclusion:  Close the lesson by reminding the class that God wants to use to them to do wonderful things, but they must be prepared for God to use them.  Pray that they would ready and willing for God to use them. 

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