Why the bible can help us understand dreams

Why many of the principles we use to understand the bible can also help us interpret our dreams.

Are you a Christian looking for help with understanding your dreams?

I have discovered that many of the tools we use to understand the bible – such as the inductive study method – can also help us interpret our dreams.

Read on to discover why the bible can help – plus links to lots of useful biblical dream interpretation tools!

I approach dream interpretation from a biblical perspective. My belief is that our dreams can come from God, and understanding them is best understood within the context of an ongoing relationship with Him.

If you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Understand your dreams: A bible-based introduction to dream language and my 3 step dream interpretation method to give you a foundation.

Introducing inductive bible study

If you are reading this article, I suspect you already have a respect and love for the bible and need no convincing in that area. But as a way of introduction, I will share some reasons why it could be beneficial – and introduce the inductive study method.

I have been a follower of Jesus for more than 40 years and have always enjoyed reading the bible. Even when I was a young teenager, I was fairly unusual in that I would get up early to read it before school, and I was always fascinated by the stories and the wisdom that I found therein.

Most of all I loved the fact that I encountered God Himself, as He seemed to step out of the pages to meet me as I read. I like to imagine myself sitting with the Holy Spirit, and reading the bible in a companionable way together as I keep my spiritual ears open to learn.

Most of all I loved the fact that I encountered God Himself, as He seemed to step out of the pages to meet me as I read.

More recently, this passion of mine resulted in me taking a year out to study the entire bible full-time using the inductive study method. This approach aims to look at what the bible actually says and let that shape our understanding, rather than coming with preconceived ideas (as we often tend to do without realising it).

This was undoubtedly one of the best years of my life, and during that time I learned some excellent principles to help me understand the bible, and I continue to use the same tools today.

Picture of bible with coloured pencils, and text: indusctive study aims to look at what the bible actually says through observation, understanding and application
My much loved ‘School of the Word’ bible and coloured pencils.

The bible and dream interpretation

What may be a new idea for some of you, is that after learning and applying these principles to my bible reading, I found that some of the same tools also started to help me to interpret my dreams. Without realising it, my whole approach to dreams had been shaped by studying the bible.

My whole approach to interpreting dreams had been shaped by the bible.

I have been learning to interpret my own dreams from a biblical foundation for more than 15 years. As I recognised the similarities in my approach between the bible and dreams, I started to realise that I was actually discovering something very helpful.

The realisation that hat there were similarities between the two activities made a lot of sense to me, because if, as I believe, the God we meet in the bible is the same God we meet in our dreams, then it seems only logical to expect that the way He speaks would be similar in both.

If the God of the bible is the same God we meet in our dreams, then it is logical that the way He speaks would be similar in both.

In the rest of this article I have put together a few examples of ways in which I think understanding the bible can help us with dreams.

The bible as a source of dream examples

The most obvious help that the bible provides us is in giving us some examples. There are a number of dreams recorded throughout its pages, maybe more than you might realise!

Most people know the story of Joseph (the one with the famous ‘technicolour dreamcoat’) and his dreams. Many have come across the dreams in the book of Daniel, such as King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. But there are in fact lots more.

This infographic lists over 20 dreams in the bible: https://overviewbible.com/infographic-dreams-bible/

As well as many clear examples, some of the Old Testament prophecies were described as coming as visions ‘at night’, for example Zechariah 1:8, and in the New Testament the apostle Paul had a ‘night vision‘ of a man calling from Macedonia in Acts 16:9. There are many more hints throughout the bible that communication from God was regularly received through dreams and night visions.

These examples and other references can give us confidence that God does indeed speak through dreams – and gives us clues about how to interpret dreams. They also inspire us to expect God to speak to us in similar ways.

More on this theme…

Bible verses about dreams

Are dreams in the bible? What does the bible say about dreams? Includes over 70 bible references on the subject.

Picture of bible and clock, with text: Night dreams feature throughout bible history

Bible study is a science and an art

I have heard the process of understanding the bible being described as both a science and an art. This is certainly true in my experience:

  • A science because it assumes that there are logical and defined principles that can be used as a basis for reasoned interpretation. I use my mind to understand and think about what I am reading. I make observations, look up the meanings of words, and research the historical and cultural context.
  • An art because we need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit combined with our intuition and imagination in order to fully engage with the text and appreciate the sense of what is being conveyed. I like to use tools such as meditating on scriptures, imagining the scene, and journaling what the Holy Spirit speaks to me about.

Dream interpretation is a science and an art

This is also true for understanding dreams! We certainly need to use our knowledge and our reasoning ability as part of the interpretation process. But we also need to use our intuition and our imagination to enter into the story. We also need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, because only God knows the true interpretation of the dream.

I approach interpreting dreams in a similar way to how I approach reading the bible:

  • A SCIENCE: I follow some underlying principles and interpretation steps, which I have learnt through training and lots of practice. Working through a dream interpretation process helped me greatly when I was first learning, and still helps me when I get stuck on a dream.
  • AN ART: I sit with the Holy Spirit and use my imagination to walk through the dream with Him ‘beside’ me. I take note of impressions and feelings that I get as I do so, and I journal what God speaks to me about.

The first article below is more about the steps, and the second is more about the art…

Picture of an open bible and a coffee, with text: I sit with the Holy Spirit and journal what He shows me

Observe, Understand, Apply

When learning to use the inductive approach I was taught to observe, understand and apply what was in the bible. I actually use some of the same tools with my dreams, and find it quite helpful.

Here I have placed the two activities side by side, to illustrate the similarities:

Observe

  • BIBLE: I use various tools such as underlining and writing paragraph headings. I highlight and circle words that stand out, and make notes in the margin of my bible. All of this causes me to look closely at what the words actually say.
  • DREAMS: In the same way with dreams I start by writing down the dream carefully. I give it a ‘paragraph heading’ or title using words from the dream itself. I might draw or diagram the dream. I circle or highlight any significant symbols. All of this helps me to look closely and note the important elements of the dream.

Understand

  • BIBLE: I seek to interpret what I read in the light of what the passage would have meant to the original recipients. This means understanding the historical context and culture. From that basic foundation I can pull out the timeless principles that are useful for us today.
  • DREAMS: I follow the interpretation process to help me gain insight into the context, storyline and the various elements and symbols in the dream. This might mean looking some word meanings up on Google, looking up potential number, colour and name meanings, and praying through the dream. This all hopefully results in a basic explanation of the main message of the dream.

Apply

  • BIBLE: This is my favourite part! I seek God’s wisdom and pray about what it means for me. This is the point where the bible seems to come alive and becomes relevant, and the Holy Spirit highlights specific application in areas of my life.
  • DREAMS: This is where we move beyond explanation to interpretation, and seek out the specific application to our life. It requires listening carefully to The Holy Spirit, combined with experience and Godly wisdom, to discern why God gave the dream, and what our response should be. I love it when it all comes together!

Having done all that, I regularly revisit my dreams to see whether my interpretations were accurate with the benefit of hindsight.

I also review what I feel God is saying to me through the bible, and the things He speaks to me about through other means. We need to keep ourselves accountable, and learn from experience if we find we have misunderstood or misinterpreted things!

More on this theme…

Picture of open bible, with text: Observing what the bible actually says

God’s character revealed in the bible

I believe that dreams from God are direct communications from God’s Spirit to our spirit while we sleep, and as such contain direct revelation from God. But after that the problem starts!

In the same way that we can misinterpret the bible through misunderstanding, we can also completely miss the point that God is trying to convey through our dreams. (The same applies to any type of prophecy, vision, or revelation from God). Therefore, it is essential for us to first understand God’s heart and His ways.

The bible documents God’s interactions with mankind over thousands of years, from creation, through the exploits of the nation of Israel, to the coming of Jesus and the establishing of the early church. Therefore I think that this is an excellent place to look to understand how God relates to us, His sons and daughters, and to glean wisdom in the ways we could expect Him to speak to us.

The bible is an excellent place to look for help in understanding how God relates to mankind.

Understanding dreams goes way beyond interpreting an isolated dream, but also addresses the bigger picture of God’s character and ways, and how He relates to us through many dreams and other ways during the changing seasons of our lives.

Therefore, the more we know God, His character, His ways, and His abounding love, the better equipped we will be to be good dream interpreters.

  • Psalm 103:8, NASB The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

Being familiar with the bible, and more importantly the God we meet through the pages of the bible, can help provide us with the foundation that we need.

More on this theme…

More biblical similarities

In addition to the ones already mentioned in this article, I have written some more in-depth articles on specific subjects, based on the similarities between bible study and dream interpretation. Each of these contains real dream examples. Here is a summary of them:

As you can see, there are quite a few articles on this subject! During the time I spent writing them, I became greatly encouraged:

It was wonderful for me to see how dream interpretation can be firmly grounded in biblical principles. But it also encouraged me to discover that the God of the bible really is the same God who is speaking through our dreams. I hope you are encouraged too!

If you are interested in pursuing this topic further, you can also check out check out 10 biblical tools for understanding dreams, where ten of these biblical principles are all summarised in one place.

Picture of tools with text: 10 biblical tools for understanding dreams

Conclusion

I have shared some reasons – from personal experience of studying the bible and interpreting dreams – why I believe dreams come from the same God who inspired the bible, and, therefore, why the bible can help us with interpreting dreams.

I have discovered that dreams come from the same God who inspired the bible.

I hope this article has encouraged you to believe that God is speaking through your dreams too – and that the bible can help you understand them.

I have included many links to more articles where you can discover biblical principles to help you with your dreams – with real dream examples. Please take advantage of them!

In reality, our relationship with God is an ongoing conversation – and we need the bible as well as dreams. Reading the bible, listening to our dreams – plus prayer and all the other ways that God speaks – all interweave into a beautiful tapestry which develops over time.

If you don’t know God yet, or you’re not yet experiencing the joy of friendship with Him through Jesus Christ, I encourage you to consider starting out on that journey. If that’s you, do get in touch – I would love to hear from you.

I hope you have found this article helpful. If you want to know more, do subscribe to my emails below to receive regular dream interpretation tips.

The purpose of this blog is to provide solid biblical foundations for interpreting dreams, change mindsets in the church, and encourage others to make their own dream journey. I am primarily a writer and bible teacher – who loves dreams, and I hope you will be inspired to learn to interpret your own dreams.

It is not currently my aim to routinely engage in dream interpretations or provide training, except through writing blog posts. You can read my most up to date position on interpreting dreams here: Requests for dream interpretations.

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Picture of man reading the bible, with text: why the bible can help us understand dreams

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