How can we be used effectively by God? In the confrontation with the prophets of Baal, Elijah prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command” (1 Kings 18:36). In this prayer, we see how God can use a person effectively.
The person God uses is filled with a passion for God’s glory – “Let it be known that today YOU are God in Israel”. Elijah cared only for one thing - God’s glory. He could well have been thinking of the ruined altars, dead prophets and priests in Israel and in his heart prayed, “enough is enough, this day let the people see that you truly are God.”
The man God uses is fully convicted that he is God’s servant – “and that I am your servant.” A servant does not tell his master what to do or argues when his master tells him the plan. He just goes ahead and does it. When God told Elijah to hide in the Kerith Ravine, he does that immediately. When God tells him to go and see Ahab, he does the same. This was Elijah’s attitude throughout his life – a life that was surrendered, yielded and emptied for the master’s use.
The man God uses does only what God tells him to do - “I am your servant”. To know God’s plan is to know his purpose and to know his purpose is to be able to do his work successfully. I think this is the key to being of effective service. We normally ask God to endorse our steps but I am sure Elijah consulted God every step of the way. The text just tells us that he went appeared before the people but I am sure that while waiting, he was praying. We note that he did not unveil the contest details earlier when he told Ahab to assemble the Baal prophets for the contest on Mount Carmel. It could be that Elijah himself, at that point, did now how this contest was to be fought. It could be that while awaiting the people to assemble, Elijah was in prayer up on that cold mountain, seeking God’s Will. He had seen God lead him for so many years. So he waited on God to show him the remaining steps so that everyone would see it was the hand of God and not of Elijah that brought about the defeat of the false prophets of Baal.
If we want to accomplish God’s purposes, first we need to pray. It was the hard work of praying for the people on the mountain that turned their hearts to the true God. That is a good lesson for us on how Elijah succeeded. His nature and circumstances are no different from us. What made the difference was that he was willing to commit time to discern what God’s will was. Then, once he knew he went ahead and did it.
We all know how this story ends. God sends down fire to consume the sacrifice of Elijah, proving who the true God was. Normally, we pray to get God to endorse what we want to do. But Elijah prayed to find out what God’s will was. Then when he found out what God’s will was, he went ahead and did what God wanted done. That’s how a servant of God gets God’s Word done. Perhaps, that is how we need to see ourselves. We should ask our great God for a humble heart to do what he requires of us, whether big or small. God may well choose us not to do great things like Elijah but tasks that are insignificant in the eyes of many people. Yet, let us do them anyway. What is important is that we let God use our lives the way he wants to and not the way we want to.