Can we speak things into existence?

Some people believe that we have the power to "speak things into existence" or manifest reality by the words we audibly speak and the things we repeat to ourselves in our minds. Some health and wealth teachers use phrases like "name it and claim it," "your confession is your possession," "speak it into the atmosphere," or "declare that it is yours today" to supposedly speak things like wealth, a new car, or a job promotion into existence. But can people actually create reality based on verbal utterances or even through sincere belief?

The short answer is: No. Speaking things into existence is an ability that only God possesses. God is all powerful. The Genesis account of creation describes God speaking certain things in the world into existence. "God said …. And it was so" is a repeated pattern in Genesis 1. God is the only one who can say, "so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). While it is true that humanity is created in God's image (Genesis 1:27), we have no biblical reason to believe that speaking reality into existence is part of this—it is an incommunicable aspect of God's character.

Some people use 2 Corinthians 4:13–14 in support of speaking things into existence. Those verses say, "Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, 'I believed, and so I spoke,' we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence." However, if you read the passage before this it is evident that the "speaking" that Paul is talking about is preaching the Word of God. They believed the gospel, and so they spoke it by the power of Christ.

People have also used Mark 11:24 to support speaking things into existence. It says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." It is true that there is power in prayer, but that power is God, not our words. The purpose of prayer is to conform our heart to God's, not to bring worldly goods into our lives. James was aware of this misinterpretation of Jesus' words, and responds to people who attempt to use Jesus as a vending machine, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions" (James 4:3). Prayer is talking with our Lord and having a relationship with Him, not a way to get what we want out of God. When we truly seek God and enjoy Him, we will be satisfied because God is everything that our hearts desire (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 90:14).

The dangerous thing about speaking things into existence is that it seems to work sometimes. It is true that there is power in our words (Proverbs 18:21), and if you say to yourself over and over that you will reach your goals, you are more likely to confidently work hard for them. It is true that we should pray in faith, trusting in God rather than doubting (James 1:5–8). We should not be double-minded in our prayers, using them as one option in case our own plan doesn't work out. Rather, we should submit to God and take Him at His Word.

However, the ability of our words to direct our thoughts, change our behaviors, and affect others is not the same thing as the power of God to speak things into existence. The sincerity or amount of our faith is useless if the object of our faith is faulty. We have no power to manifest our own destiny or to create physical or circumstantial realities through incantations or sheer belief. If we truly know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then the Holy Spirit resides in us and we have access to the Father through prayer (Hebrews 4:14–16; 10:19–23). Why would we try to create our own reality when we can go directly to the God of the universe who is all powerful, all wise, and loves us as His own? We serve the God of whom Jesus said, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11; cf. Matthew 7:7–11; Luke 11:1–13). God knows our needs far better than we do, and He knows how to best meet them. Our faith is not in our own words or our own level of belief. Our faith is in the God who knit us together in our mothers' wombs (Psalm 139:13), who came to rescue us from sin and its consequences, and who invites us into life-giving relationship with Himself.

Imagine the kind of change you would see in your life if instead of "speaking" prosperity into your life, you spoke the Word of God into your life! Imagine if rather than trying to speak your desired reality into existence you filled your mind with God's Word to understand His will for your life. Imagine if rather than trying to create your own destiny you brought your requests to God in prayer, trusting that He might have something even better, of eternal worth, in store. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Corinthians 4:7). "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20–21).

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Why is sound doctrine so crucial?

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Truth about False Beliefs

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