By Christina Patterson, Crosswalk.com
Have you ever had a dream and wondered if the dream was from God, or if it was just your imagination? Throughout the Bible, we see God speaking to people through their dreams, and I believe He still does so today. But how to know if a dream is from God? Let’s discuss some sure steps to take when trying to interpret if a dream is from God, or not.
Throughout Scripture, we see that there are multiple ways God speaks to his people. He sends angels as messengers to give His Word. We see God show up in theophanies, which are physical manifestations of Christ, who comes to give a message to someone. God also gives people visions. In these cases, they were awake. And then there are dreams.
To give just one example: in Genesis, we read about Joseph who had a dream about becoming a ruler over his brothers. We see through his testimony in the scriptures that dream actually come to pass. There are other stories in the Bible where God speaks to men and women in dreams, including Solomon, Joseph, the Magi, and Pilate’s wife.
I personally believe that God still does speak to some through dreams. I have had certain dreams where I could confidently say, that was God.
Second, Ask Yourself: How Did This Dream Make Me Feel?
Why is this an important question to ask, especially if we know that our feelings are not always facts? Well, we do know that God is not a God of confusion. We also know that God has not given a spirit of fear. So, if you feel confused or fearful after a dream, that dream is most likely not from God.
One thing we must be aware of is that sometimes, we can be attacked spiritually in our dreams as well. So how do we know we are under spiritual attack from the enemy? Well, in your day-to-day, have you discerned that you are in a season of spiritual attack? I've realized when I'm in a season of particularly increased spiritual attack, I might have more bad dreams. I'll be tempted to think, oh, is something bad about to happen? But the truth I must speak to myself is this: the enemy is trying to instill fear in my heart because he does not want me to operate in faith.
Third, If You’re Not Sure Whether a Dream Is from God, Pray.
Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter. To search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (NIV) God may give us a dream that's not completely clear. That’s where prayer comes in. When we pray we’re asking for clarity, but also the practice of prayer draws us closer to God. It's about the search. It's about the seeking God about the matter.
Fourth, Ask a Trusted Mentor or Spiritual Advisor to Pray.
Sometimes a dream will be clear, its meaning plain to us, and we’ll feel confident of it in our spirit. Other times it won't be. And that's when prayer comes in. Additionally, that's when we ought to talk to a trusted spiritual advisor, counselor, pastor, or friend who has good discernment to be able to help us work through what certain things may mean.
Fifth: Remember, God Doesn’t Want Us to Stress or Worry About Dreams.
He doesn't want us to be anxious or paralyzed. If scripture is right, and it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, then He will uncover it in time. So our job might be to practice patience.
If God gives you a revelation, a vision, or a dream, it might be some time before you actually truly understand what it means. In the tension of waiting, we practice our faith. God can and does speak to us anyway that he wants. Trust that if God is speaking to you through your dreams, he will make it clear in His good time.
Want to hear about my own personal experience with dreams from God? In the latest episode of my podcast Teach Us to Pray, I talk through several examples of dreams I have had and how I went about discerning if those dreams were from God in my podcast Teach Us to Pray. Listen to my episode on dreams by clicking the play button below, and then head over to LifeAudio.com where you can find all of the episodes of Teach Us to Pray, plus links to Apple and Spotify were you can subscribe on your phone, so you never miss an episode!
Image Credit: @GettyImages/Biserka Stojanovic
Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.