Prayer Quest: Breaking through to Your God-Given Dreams and Destiny
By Dee Duke
Colorado Springs, Colo
Reviewed by Dr. Greg Harris
18.2 (Fall 2007) : 245-248
A popular website promises a secret means of getting what you want from life by visualizing your goals and dreams to such a degree that they eventually become reality. From a website promoting “The Secret,” the following is promised:
There is a universal intelligence or knowingness in each and every one of us. When you are open to this intelligence of the heart, it guides you in the right direction to do what is best for you and those around you. Following this intuitive knowing attracts to you whatever you need as you need it. You find yourself having, being and doing whatever is right for you in the moment for your highest good. Your heart knows what actions are appropriate for you to take to attract to you what is appropriate for you.
In Prayer Quest: Breaking through to Your God-Given Dreams and Destiny, Dee Duke presents very much the same approach. Throughout the book he offers ways to develop and follow one’s dreams. Of course, in this case dreams do not refer to revelatory dreams, such as to Joseph had in Matthew 1 or to the common dreams that occur during sleep. Duke uses dreams in the sense of goals, desires, or wants, writing,
A dream is a desire felt so strongly that we think and meditate on it constantly until we see it in our mind as clearly as if it were reality. A dream believes that what is desired will happen; it is accomplished by anticipation and positive expectation. People who dream tend to be upbeat and enthusiastic. They give hope to those around them, attracting people to their dreams and causes (26).
Self-help sources abound, in both the secular and the Christian world, without much difference at the core of each. Something like the statement above is expected from the secular world on a website promising entrance into “The Secret,” but not in a book from a Christian publisher such as NavPress that teaches in essence the same approach.
Using John 14:12 as a launching pad (“he will do even greater things than these,” 23), Duke launches into instructing readers on how to dream their own dream, which he repeatedly claims is God’s dream. For instance,
Welcome to the reality where dreams come true! God has a dream, and it is certain to happen just as He imagines it. He has placed the stamp of His image on our souls, so that we also dream great dreams. As we learn to passionately share and enjoy God’s dreams, we will see Him work in amazing ways . . . (15).
Again, it is not so much their own dreams Christians are to pursue, but ultimately they are God’s dream for Christians. Duke asks in question #9, “What do these passages [Titus 2:1-4; Romans 12:10-12; Joshua 1:7-8] teach about God’s dream for each of us?” That is a brash assumption in these and other verses. The answer, biblically speaking, is nothing. Nothing appears in any of the contexts in regard to a “believer’s dreams,” nothing about what “we think and meditate on . . . constantly until we see it in our mind as clearly as if it were reality,” or believing “that what is desired will happen; it is accomplished by anticipation and positive expectation” (26).
Although proponents of Prayer Quest would no doubt argue that the book is replete with Scripture references throughout each chapter and therefore thoroughly biblical, rarely do the references in their context relate to the point made. Rather, the author’s presuppositions frame them. One of dozens of such examples is the “Parable of the Ten Virgins” in Matt 25:14-30. The context deals with events specifically related to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, the second coming of Christ to earth, and the end of the age (Matt 24:1-3). Duke instead writes, “The most common reason that most believers have given up dreaming God’s dreams is illustrated by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30” (24).
The author coaches his followers on how to dream their dream with God, for example, by developing “dream notes” as “one of many ways to release your imagination in prayer” (28-29). Still referring to these as God’s “dreams and plans” (28), he cites “do not judge or be critical of your thoughts now—just let them flow” (ibid.). He further counsels, “Determine to dream with God again” (ibid.).
Duke acknowledges that the source of such dreams is not a given. He states, “Your dream notes may stem from one of four sources (although discerning between these is difficult and not always necessary)” (29). He then lists the four sources as “thoughts from God,” “your own original thoughts,” “thoughts from the world (good, neutral, or evil sources),” and “thoughts from Satan and his demons” (29). Duke prays in this regard, “Father, please help me to understand whether this thought is from You or from some other source. Help me to discern which thoughts are worthy of Your dream for my life” (28).
In reference to one’s heart (that is, used in the sense of the seat of one’s thoughts, motives, and desires), the Creator who made the heart states and asks about it in Jer 17:9: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” He then answers in 17:10: “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind.” Further, Jesus said in reference to the heart in Mark 7:20-23:
And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
Those who imply their thoughts are God’s thoughts plainly contradict what God has stated in His W ord. For those whose “dream prayers” originate in their own heart (even with a “God-tag” placed on them), do so from a source that is “more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.” Has this changed since the time of Jeremiah or Jesus? Yet Duke explains to his readers, “Select the dream notes you believe God wishes you to pursue” (29). How does someone know? Feelings? Your original thoughts? What issues forth from your heart?
For those who “will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4), Prayer Quest is a book for them. For those who want to justify the lusts of the flesh, in the name of God, this book should make them feel good about themselves. For those who want to be a disciple of Jesus, counting the cost, leaning not on their own understanding, denying themselves, and taking up their cross to follow Him, avoid this nonbiblical theology.