Encouragement Regarding Dreams - An introduction regarding some basics
in discernment and interpretation
Teri Lee Earl
When Christians ask me
to interpret their dreams I often end up sharing things I have learned
over the years during my Christian walk and ministry regarding dreams.
As I write some of these out for you today, I am aware of that many of
you have probably already encountered some discouragement or confusion
regarding dreams from the Lord. For one thing, many people in our
Western culture are trained by our "Age of Reason" cultural influences
to discount dreams altogether. Surprisingly, even some 'Spirit-filled'
or 'Charismatic' Christians can disbelieve the spiritual significance a
dream can have, preferring to keep to a safer ground that might seem
less 'kooky' to them. This is contrary to the attitude displayed
throughout the Bible though, where believers were not ashamed of the
fact that God or angels spoke to them in dreams. On the opposite end of
the scale, there are those who may read too much into their dreams or
treat them with a superstition or reverence reminiscent of New Age
thought and practices.
If we have
had a particular dream they we suspect is from God, then the first
order of business is to discern if it really is or not. We all have
R.E.M. states in our sleep and some of us remember most of our dreams
while others of us remember few, if any. My husband has probably
remembered only three or four of his dreams since childhood. In
contrast, I usually recall one dream or more each night. Since I have
so many dreams to sort through, how then do I know which ones to heed
and which ones are a result of indigestion, simple emotional
processing, or random neurotransmitter chemicals floating around my
brain after a hard day's work? How do I also discern the interpretation?
Relax, set aside your ego, and trust God
speaking, the best thing to do when it comes to dreams from God, is to
adopt an easygoing attitude. Some people tend to be hyper-vigilant and
as a result, may end up reading something significant into their dreams
which may or may not be there. Rather than relaxing and trusting God to
reveal and speak clearly to them what He will, when He will, and how He
will, they make the mistake of obsessing over a particular way or
timing that they think He should show them something. This means that
if they happen to desire a message from God and think that it should be
in a dream, then they are at high risk of counting a dream as somehow
being a message from God when it is not.
So first of
all, although it is sometimes easier said than done, be
anxious for nothing. If you are desirous of God to show you
something, then remember that He is a big God and He is more than able
to speak to you however He wants. This does not have to be in a dream
of course. Second of all, if the issue is an interpretation regarding a
particular dream, again, be anxious for nothing. If
you have read any of my dream or vision testimonies, you may have
noticed that I have had to wait as long as fifteen years to fully
understand something God was saying to me. And believe me, nothing
could have sped up that understanding or interpretation! On the other
hand, I have also understood an interpretation of a dream
instantaneously, even within the dream. In that case I have sometimes
had to simply wait for the unfolding of the dream (if part of it was
predictive), rather than the interpretation of it. In both cases I am
waiting upon God. Therefore just as scripture indicates, patience as we
wait upon the Lord is a virtue in the Christian faith.
So take a
deep breath and relax if you do not yet understand the symbols or
meaning of a particular dream. Believe it or not, a deep trust in the
Lord will not fail you, because God Himself will not fail you.
Ask for help from the Holy Spirit
search through dreams in my mind every morning for something of
quality, I tend to ignore most dreams as matter of habit. How is it
that I could have such a seemingly apathetic attitude over the years
and yet know and remember (in detail) a dream from the Lord? A good
part of that answer is because I had many hardships during my young
adult life and I had to depend upon God for many things. Other than
reading Scripture, I had little luxury time to spend in efforts to
remember or contemplate a dream. Since I trusted that the Holy Spirit
would remind me or show me what I needed to know, I often asked for
help from the Holy Spirit. And this worked. In fact the only time I
jotted dreams down was once upon the Lord's instructions. These were
dreams that carried the same theme over the course of about a decade,
and I was able to remember them all in detail.
Always remember to put your relationship
with God first
been so special about me that I might have any dreams from the Lord at
all? Absolutely nothing, and this is important to remember. We need to
know that God loves us regardless, and a 'message' from Him in a dream
does not necessarily prove or disprove that love at all. Once our egos
or anxieties do not to rule our relationship with God, we will be
better off in many ways.
While I was
in college, I once had a roommate that I will call Jane. Jane had
barely escaped a known pseudo-Christian cult at the time called The Way
International. She described the horrendous ordeal she underwent in a
communal home of theirs in Texas where, because she could not find a
job, the leaders screamed at her and threatened her, quoting 2 Thess.
3:10 to her. When she still could not find employment, they
withheld all food from her. It was quite clear to me that they
misapplied scripture and showed no mercy.
her father sent her money to get out of the cult. She said that she
bought an airplane ticket but the cult leaders found out about it.
While she was at the airport trying to board her plane, four cult
members physically held her down to keep her from leaving. She broke
free from them and escaped to catch her plane, which took her back to
very troubled due to her cult experience. She was very hostile to me at
times, yelled at me, and then cried because she did not trust God to
keep us from starving while we were poor college students. I did not
tell her this, but there was a time when I skipped meals every day when
there was not enough food between us, so that she could eat
enough. Eventually Jane began to understand that God loved
her. She turned her life over to God and through incidences that would
take too long to detail, she received deliverance from a total of
thirteen demons. Afterwards she was much better and this lasted for a
number of months.
I do not
know how Jane discovered that I had dreams from the Lord. Perhaps other
people told her. However, unbeknownst to me she became jealous. Now
jealousy of a prophetic gifting is not necessarily lethal in the
spiritual sense. The apostle Paul encouraged us to desire the
higher gifts. But jealousy for her turned into a rejection against any
type of ministry from me and rebellion toward God. I know this now only
because she confessed it to me over a year after she rejoined the cult
by attending their local college outreach meetings.
left the cult again and asked for and received deliverance once again,
she confessed to me that had always wanted to have a dream
from God like I did. Since He would not give her one, she got angry
with Him and decided not to be a Christian. Once in her cult again, she
was miserable again but would not admit it to anyone. Then the Lord
gave her a dream.
In the dream
she walked into a pleasant looking house. Once inside though, the walls
and roof caved in around her and on top of her, and she heard the voice
of the Lord from outside of the house clearly saying to her, "I told
you not to buy this house!" Jane woke up frightened and shaken, knowing
that God had finally given her the dream from Him that she had always
wanted, but it wasn't the type of dream she expected! This,
she said, was what drove her to repentance out of fear of God.
So do not
let jealousy, anxiety, or any other emotion drive you into rebellion
If we are
jealous of anyone who has had an experience or gift that we do not yet
have, then let that drive us to prayer as we submit ourselves to God's
will, rather than to rebellion against Him because He will not 'play by
A dream from
God was not at all unusual for people in the Bible, and indeed
something that was promised us by the prophet Joel for the last days.
So when we have the best attitude we can about it, and when we do the
best we can in putting our relationship with God first, we are doing
well. If we do have a dream from Him, it is good to think of this as a
natural occurrence available to any believer rather than something to
covet or create conflict over.
Some Basic Pointers
Now we can
come to a few basics about discerning a dream. As a general rule, the
following are obvious indicators that a dream is from God:
-any dream the Holy Spirit 'quickens',
either during the dream or just after
this comes as just a feeling. Sometimes it is stronger then that. The
Lord may speak directly to you in the dream as He did with Jane, or
perhaps He may say something upon waking from the dream or even during
the next day or week.
-any dream with Biblical images or Biblical
This is just
my opinion, but the exception to this might be "end-time" themes. An
"end-of-the-world" dream may be an anxiety dream about concern for our
future. While these dreams too can be very important, we must consider
our cultural influences. So before jumping to conclusions about the
validity of this kind of dream, ask yourself if it is just a
regurgitation of movies you've watched or Christian fiction you've read
such as the "Left Behind" series. It should be fairly easy to discern
the difference between a dream that is fairly meaningless and one that
has real spiritual meaning.
-any dream that clearly has a godly purpose
exception to my "end-times theme" caution was a dream that a
non-Christian had. I had just been witnessing to him at the
time, when he came to me, distressed over a dream he had (he had no
idea I had dreams from God myself, at all) In his dream, he reached out
to God just before a huge "door" closed at the end of the world,
whereby he was drawn into heaven through the door just in time. As he
told me the dream, I knew the 'Door' represented Jesus (Rev. 3:20; Rev.
4:1. A knowledge of Scriptures is a must for
interpreting dreams) I told him so and he agreed, even though he had
never heard of the relevant scriptures. The dream caused him to be
concerned for his spiritual future (eternal life) which was a very good
have said that we should not try to find a dream from God where there
is none, occasionally I must confess that I have been too conservative for my
own good. Early on especially, I discounted a dream or two that really
was from the Lord, and I got taught a lesson this. In retrospect, I
knew the Lord's Spirit had been upon the dream and I could tell
something was different about the dream as I was waking up, but my
intellect or unbelief had kicked in and I set the dream aside in my
mind. Or, I was just "too busy" to give it much thought when I should
have been 'harassed' by Satan or evil spirits during their sleep and
this has happened to me too in the past. There is much I could say
about this, but seeing as this is just a friendly introduction, the
quickest comment I can make is this: Dreams that are from the Lord are vastly
different than those that have a psychic flavor or origin. Dreams from
the Lord are less cryptic or bizarre over all, and also are not full of
useless sensationalism (remember to question the purpose of the
dream!) Something from the Lord is indeed very different than
that from an evil spirit or soulish power, because His character is so
much more different than our own or than Satan's.
Now that I
have covered these general indicators, I advise that you NOT
necessarily be overly impressed by the following qualities to a dream:
-The strength of emotions or lack thereof.
emotions in a dream often means that your mind is 'asking' you to pay
attention to the dream, which is important, but it is not necessarily a
message from God On High. It may instead be a 'message' from your inner
emotional mind or self. Now, if we are filled with the Spirit, the Holy
Spirit can be the instigator of a 'revelation' of hidden thoughts or
emotions. Think of it as an alarm system going off in order to 'alert'
you to a life problem or something you must process. These
are important, but they must be treated with less gravity than we might
treat a 'prophetic' dream.
instance, I have had dreams about my childhood that were very
disturbing or power-packed with emotion. They contained very specific
plots and images. I remember these dreams to this day, and many times I
know exactly what "triggered" these dreams or what they
indicated. Although I have often learned something from these
dreams, they were not "from the Lord" in the classic sense - They were
instead what I think of as a computer print-out from my mind as I tried
to solve a problem or emotional difficulty- important but not
necessarily life shattering.
-the length of the dream.
Some of my
most powerful dreams from the Lord have only been as brief as just a
few seconds long.
This is the
end of my general encouragement and introduction to the subject of
dreams from God. Please feel free to read different examples
of dreams and their interpretations or outworkings in my "Diary of Dreams"
This section of "Diary of Dreams" is part
of our Prophet 'Un'School