Gerrard will captain Roy Hodgson's side against Moldova on Friday night, and he responded to the suggestion from Greg Dyke that England needed to look further ahead than 2014 for success.
"I don't think we're as weak as has been suggested," said Gerrard.
"Realistically, everyone in the room knows we're not going to be one of the bookies' favourites to win the World Cup.
"It doesn't mean we can't get there and have a successful tournament to make the country proud. But we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Our priority is to get there first.
"To qualify is the challenge. We want to qualify for the World Cup, go there and make the nation proud. We can do that without winning it.
"Playing at a World Cup is the pinnacle of any footballer's dream as a kid - especially in Brazil."
Hodgson appeared to largely agree with his captain.
"It's quite intelligent to have some targets to reach," Hodgson added. "I very much doubt whether we are top of the bookmakers' odds (for the 2014 World Cup) at the moment.
"First we have to qualify then we'll try to get better before Brazil comes round and then we'll do our best to win it. What bothers me is not whether we're going to win the World Cup.
"What bothers me is making certain we get the performances in the next four games and that we'll be going to the World Cup. When we're there, we'll set about winning it."
Gerrard will start in midfield alongside Jack Wilshere and Frank Lampard, who will earn his 99th cap at Wembley. Rickie Lambert will play up front, supported from the flanks by Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck.