What’s a situation you faced when you felt completely outnumbered? Most of us have never been on a battlefield when enemy forces dwarfed our own, but we can still feel like the odds are against us. Maybe it’s a sports competition and not all of our players show up. Maybe it’s a conflict at work and our colleagues side with the boss and overrule our professional recommendations. Maybe it’s a debate at home about what color we should paint the family room and our kids prefer Daddy’s choice of Sportsman Red over our perfect pick of Meadow Sage.
Whatever the scenario, it can be disappointing and stressful when we’re in the minority. Especially in cases when the majority wins.
As I toured Israel, we went to the top of Mt. Carmel. This is the mountain where the prophet Elijah had a showdown with the prophets of Baal, a pagan god. It was Elijah against 450 false prophets. Not great odds there. And the king of Israel had gathered all of the people of the kingdom to watch the competition. Talk about pressure!
What was the point of the duel? To prove who was the true God. What was at stake? The faith of the people of Israel.
Baal was supposedly the god of fire from lightning. So Elijah suggested a contest that Baal should have won, if he was real. The competition was to see which one, Baal or God (ie Jehovah), could bring fire down from heaven to burn a sacrifice on an altar. The god who answered by fire––he would prove to be God.
The prophets of Baal went first.
They prepared their altar and from morning until noon they called on the name of Baal. But there was no answer. They danced and shouted and cut themselves with spears as was their custom. But still no response. Elijah taunted them saying, “Shout louder! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping.” I have to agree with Elijah on this one. I mean really, if Baal was a god, certainly he could be roused by his 450 prophets to do the one thing he was known for––bringing fire down from heaven! But afternoon gave way to evening and the frantic group continued their prophesying to no avail.
So Elijah stepped up to the plate.
Now remember, it’s Elijah on one side and the 450 men with their altar on the other side. Elijah built an altar in the name of the LORD and he dug a trench around it. Then he said to the people, “Fill four large jars of water and pour it on the altar.” Then he had them do it again. Then he had them do it a third time. Water poured down off the altar and filled the trench.
Why the water? Think of it as showmanship or icing on the cake. Elijah wanted everyone to see that there was no coincidence in what was about to happen. This would prove that there’s only one God. And God’s power is limitless.
So what did Elijah do next? He did the most powerful thing any of us can do. He prayed.
But Elijah didn’t pray that God would help him accomplish his goal. He didn’t pray that God would wipe out his competition. He didn’t pray that God would bring resources to help him in his battle. Just like us, he could have prayed any of these things and the prayer would have been a good prayer.
Instead, Elijah prayed the best prayer. He humbly and sincerely prayed that God would display His glory and turn the people’s hearts back to Him.
These are the types of prayers that God loves to answer. Through this prayer, Elijah joined God’s team and immediately became the majority in the competition. How? Because no one is more powerful than God. As Lon Solomon says, 1 + God is always a majority.
These are the types of prayers God wants us to pray. Are we willing to lay our agendas down before the Lord and truly pray, “Lord, not my will but Yours be done”? Will we humbly and sincerely pray that God’s power and glory be revealed to the world through our lives? If so, we give God the opportunity to work through us to do miracles in other people’s lives. And in the process we will be radically changed forever.
So next time you’re feeling outnumbered, surrender to God’s plan and give Him free reign to pour His power into the situation. 1 + God is always a majority. And that majority always wins.
Does the equation of your life show 1 + God?
“‘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 18:37 (NLT)
May I pray?
God, You are the one and only true God. Your power is limitless. Your wisdom is infinite. And Your love for Your children is greater than anything that we can fathom. Move in our hearts today as we bring our life challenges to You. Help us to sincerely lay our struggles before You and let go. May Your will be done. May Your undeniable power be shown to us and others. Thank You for still being in the business of turning those who are lost back to You. I pray we’ll all come running. Amen.
Q4U: What’s a situation you faced when you felt completely outnumbered?