In certain circles, there seems to be a lot of talk these days about declaring and decreeing. It speaks to a posture of prayer, where the one who prays is able to cause things to happen by decreeing that certain things be so. It seems this method of "prayer" rests in the power of our words as Christians. Our words will go forth and do what we send them to do.
As an experiment, I typed into DuckDuckGo (the google alternative you should be using) the search term "how to declare and decree in prayer." My goal in this was to obtain results that spoke positively of the "declare and decree" prayer mantra to see what scriptural references people are using to support this prayer stance. Fortunately, the first result was a well written collegiate article (PDF warning) exposing the lack of biblical support for this practice. However, this piece is not about those who object to the practice. I agree with those who object; their points are typically very well supported with scripture.
I was trying to figure out how the Declare and Decree camp used scripture to support their theology, or how they showed support for the practice. It was harder than I thought.
I say this because many of the sites DuckDuckGo sent me to were all about the Christian's right or even responsibility to pray decreeing prayers, but few of them referenced any text of the Bible at all. Some used dictionary definitions of "declare" and "decree" to make their points. A few referenced vague generalities about spiritual laws and truths, but without any solid Bible study to back up their points. There were, though, a few verses that were referenced here and there, and one verse seemed to be highlighted more than any other. This verse was Job 22:28-29Job 22:28-29 (ESV)
You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly. . Other, less often used verses included Matthew 6:10Matthew 6:10 (ESV)
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. , from the Lord's prayer, Psalm 112:1-3Psalm 112:1-3 (ESV)
Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. , and Proverbs 18:21Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits..
Often, though, only examples of decreeing prayer were offered. One writer gave an example that made me chuckle:
"My husband can recite Your Word from memory because You, Lord, have written it on his heart. (Jeremiah 31:33Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV)
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. )" and "My husband dreams of what is to come. He can interpret and decode his dreams according to the Bible and it serves as a way to bless and protect his family. (Acts 2:17Acts 2:17 (ESV)
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; )"
Since I was getting so little scripture, I changed my search term to "Bible verses for declare and decree." This gave me a few of those computer generated Bible verse pages where clearly an algorithm has created the results. I'll ignore those as they are not human curated and I was looking for explanatory articles justifying the position.
Here I hit my first good result. 10 Bible Verses You can Legitimately Declare Over Your Life While this article isn't about the declare and decree movement, it does remind us that we can go to the Bible to declare things over our lives. This author's first example was a good one:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19).
His other examples were also positive. Speaking to the declare and decree folks, this author said something quite wise:
There actually isn’t a lot in the Bible about declaring things about ourselves. Instead we read of people declaring the praises of God: “I will declare that your love stands firm forever” (Psalm 89:2).
But in the declare and decree movement, it's all about "ourselves."
Typically, it's Job 22:28 that I hear most often regarding this method of prayer. This verse says:
You will also declare a thing, And it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways. (NKJV)
I used the NKJV because it and the KJV use the word "declare." Many other translations use the word "decide." In all reality, "decide" is the more correct word. If you read this passage in context (considering verses 21-30Job 22:21-30 (ESV)
Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents, if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly. He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.), it is clear that in this passage, Eliphaz is laying out an accusation at Job, whom Eliphaz assumes has sinned (and thus caused the great calamity that has befallen him). Eliphaz ends this chapter by basically saying that if Job repents and turns to the Lord, good things will happen. When read in context, it is clear that Job 22:28 is not about prayer.
However, even if the passage were about prayer, it takes but a few seconds of actual study to realize the foolishness of basing an entire prayer doctrine on this scripture. First, we should ask, as we should always ask, "who's talking?" In the case of this verse, it's not God. It's also not an apostle who is speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit about God or God's will. It's really "just some guy." It's Eliphaz the Temanite, who was one of Job's three friends. This is not a passage about scriptural truths. This is simply a historical narrative of what happened when God tested Job.
But some might say, "maybe, but the point Eliphaz made was a valid point, so it can still stand as scriptural." Was it a valid point? Did God speak agreement to what Eliphaz said? To show how easy it is to figure this out, go to Blue Letter Bible (their app or website - blb.org) and do a search for Eliphaz. There's a different Eliphaz in Genesis and other places, so limit yourself to Job. Here, in chapter 2 you will see that he was one of Job's friends. He speaks in chapters 4, 15, and 22. The next time his name is mentioned is in Job 42:7. Here, God is speaking:
After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
So, did God support Eliphaz's words? No. Did the things Eliphaz said make God burn with anger against him? Yes. Should we take Eliphaz's words as scriptural instructions? No. We should not take things that make God burn with anger against someone as advice we should follow. It's so simple, yet so many people misrepresent this verse and so many others verses to support non-biblical doctrines and practices.
What's sad is those who don't know better then attempt to put these teachings into practice, and when nothing comes of it, many take it out on what they thought was Christianity and leave the faith. Yes, their faith was in a false hope of getting what they wanted from the wish fulfilling God the supposed "Christians" told them about, but if these deceptions weren't taught in the first place, and instead the Gospel was taught... people would know the truth that sets them free, rather than the false promise of "you can have what you declare and decree and you can have your best life now." The church needs to stop assenting to these selfish doctrines of demons. The church needs to stop standing quiet while false preachers tickle the ears of the masses. The church needs to get back to correct Bible study and the truth of what scripture is about. It's not about us, at least not in the way so many say it is. It's about Jesus and His Glory. We may be a part of that story, but we are not the story.
In a final thought, those who declare and decree, ultimately, are trying to call those things which be not as though they were. This is not our job. As Paul reminds us, it is God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist (See Romans 4:17Romans 4:17 (ESV)
as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. ). The original sin was Satan wanting to be like the Most High (see Isaiah 14:12-17Isaiah 14:12-17 (ESV)
How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?’ ). With the declare and decree theology, we seem to be following in Satan's footsteps, asserting to ourselves power and ability that the Bible says only belongs to God.