Question: "What does it mean to decree and declare?"
Answer: In some circles, to “decree and declare” something is to powerfully speak it into existence. This phraseology has Pentecostal/Charismatic roots and is much like the “positive confession” teaching. Those involved in the “decree and declare” movement claim that if someone decrees or declares something, then it will happen. To “declare” is to state (out loud) a fact; to “decree” is to issue an authoritative command. Kenneth Hagin, a leader in the Word of Faith movement, writes, “You can have whatever you say. . . . You always get in your life what you believe for and what you say” (“You Can Have What you Say,” hopefaithprayer.com, Lesson 25, accessed 3/31/20).
The “decree and declare” movement claims to be biblical by using scriptural support. Since mankind is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), then, the thinking goes, we, like God, can speak and make things happen. God spoke things into existence (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26), so those with faith can do the same. Those who follow the “decree and declare” formula make such statements as “I decree and declare that I will be healed from my sickness” or “I decree and declare my family will be healthy and well provided for.” Often, asking God for things in prayer is replaced by decreeing those things to happen.
It’s true that mankind is made in the image of God; however, the “decree and declare” proponents are wrong in the practical applications of that truth. Being made in the image of God does not mean that we have the same abilities that God has. Being made in the image of God means that “humans share, though imperfectly and finitely, in God’s nature, that is, in His communicable attributes (life, personality, truth, wisdom, love, holiness, justice), and so have the capacity for spiritual fellowship with Him” (Allen P. Ross, Bible Knowledge Commentary: Genesis, ed. by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, David C. Cook, 1989, p. 29). Being made in the image of God means that we reflect God’s attributes, not that we can do the things that only God can, such as speak things into existence.
Someone who has been taught to “decree and declare” might say something like this before taking a road trip: “I decree and declare God’s blessings on this vehicle, that it will remain mechanically sound!” In saying that, the speaker may truly believe that his verbal declaration, coupled with God’s power and authority within him, will guarantee a trouble-free trip. The problem is, our statements can be declarative, but not causative, no matter how true they are; plus, when we go around “decreeing” things, we are in danger of putting our will over God’s will. Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done, and He led by example (Luke 11:2; 22:42).
Whether practitioners of the “decree and declare” formula realize it or not, the ritualistic vocalizing of those words has similarities to magical incantations. According to the dictionary, an incantation is “a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect” (merriam-webster.com, accessed 3/31/20). The “decree and declare” teaching says that there is something special—something powerful—associated with our thoughts and words. We can think of something and “declare” it, and that in itself will change our circumstances and bring us blessings, including prosperity and healing. There’s nothing biblical about using certain words to manipulate events to bring something to pass. Instead of praying to the Lord for healing or other needs according to His will, followers of the Word of Faith movement are taught to repeat the “decree and declare” formula in the belief that their positivity will bring about positive results.
Instead of reciting formulaic declarations to obtain something, we should pray to the Lord in submission to His will (Matthew 26:42). Instead of seeking to force God’s hand by calling forth whatever we want, Christians should trust in the Heavenly Father who “knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matthew 6:8, NLT).