I have been in many countries and watched people pray. And there have been incantations, a lot of hocus-pocus, and genuine (though misplaced) faith in gods of wood and stone. But it isn’t the amount of faith you have that makes a difference. It’s the object of your faith that matters.
Stuart and I live in a country area on a small fishing lake. It’s weedy and reedy and it is pretty shallow, freezing over in the winter. It is called Henrietta Lake after a young girl who put all of her faith in very thin ice and drowned by faith. If she had only put a tiny bit of faith in very thick ice, she would have been saved by faith. It’s not the amount of faith you have, but the object of it that makes a difference. My heart goes out to people all over the world who are drowning by faith in false gods, because I know where they could get their help if they only knew the Lord.
Elijah, facing off with the prophets of Baal, egged them on. He began taunting them. “‘You’ll have to shout louder,’ he scoffed, ‘for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or he is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or he is asleep and needs to be wakened!’” (1 Kings 18:27).
You can imagine how this incensed the prophets of Baal. “So they shouted louder and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out. They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no reply, no voice, no answer” (vv.28-29).
When we are taking on the enemy, the first thing we have to do is affirm our belief in the one true God. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord says loudly and clearly, “I alone am God. There is no other God; there has never been and never will be. I am the Lord, and there is no other Savior.” Then the Lord says, “You are witnesses that I am the only god…From eternity to eternity I am God” (Isa. 43:10-13).
This was where Elijah started, and this is where we must start. As Elijah built his altar and made the sacrifice, he prayed aloud. This is what he prayed, “O Lord,…prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant.” And then again, “O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself” (1 Kings 18:36-37).
The prayer that affirms that God is God in heaven above and on earth below is a prayer that God affirms. And when we pray that prayer for others, trusting God to convince those we pray for of His sovereignty, we can know that He will let the fire fall on our altar and the sacrifice we have prepared. Somehow, some way, He will answer that prayer. So when we are taking on the enemy, we must loudly declare that there is but one God and that He is the only Savior.
Then we need to stand up to the servants of the enemy. Elijah taunted them. He had no sympathy for the men who were decimating Israel’s culture and faith. He boldly confronted them and challenged them to a contest. He knew he was on safe ground, because what he knew of the truth he knew to be the truth, and what he knew of the power of God, he knew to be superior to all the power of the enemy.
I’m sure that Elijah was well aware of Satan’s existence and that his cohorts could do much magic. But only God can do a miracle. And there was one thing that the prophets of Baal could certainly not do and that was answer their own prayers. No matter how much hocus-pocus they used, Satan could not answer their prayer; only God could do that. So these things gave Elijah boldness to confront error in the name of the Lord. Knowing you are right give you holy boldness. We are not half right, but all right when it comes to the Word of God. It is not arrogant to believe in the truth; it is rather arrogant not to believe it.
The thing that gave me holy boldness in our mission youth days was the belief that we were right and our young opponents were wrong or perhaps just ignorant of the truth. It was such faith in the Word of the Lord that drove Elijah to take on the prophets of Baal single-handedly.
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