How reviewing your dreams regularly and learning from them is a vital key to becoming a confident dream interpreter.
Do you want to grow in your ability to understand the meaning of dreams?
This article explores – from a biblical foundation – why it is important to review your dreams regularly, and how it is the secret sauce to becoming a confident dream interpreter!
Includes practical steps for reviewing your dreams and learning from them.
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 the following articles: Understand your dreams: A bible-based introduction to dream language and Beginner’s guide to biblical dream interpretation .
The vital key of reviewing your dreams
Most of the dream interpretation resources available address the interpretation process and how to understand the symbolism. This is important and I often write about these things, but in recent articles we have been exploring some practical steps to becoming a confident dream interpreter – including ways to record and remember what God has said through them.
But the secret sauce to my dream journey has been in what happens afterwards: It has been by regularly reviewing my dreams with hindsight that I have learnt the most and grown in faith and knowledge of God; this is where the real relationship with God happens and the feeling of being mentored by Him.
It is in reviewing our dreams regularly with hindsight that we learn the most about them – and thereby grow in faith and knowledge of God.
If you take this part of the process seriously and decide you want to learn from your dreams and become a better dream interpreter – you can be sure that the Holy Spirit will personally mentor you along the way.
Biblical reasons to review what God has said
There are some great reasons why we should regularly review what God has said to us personally, including the messages He sends us through our night dreams.
Let’s consider the example of people in the bible, and see why they reviewed what God had said to them – and then see how that relates to what we do with our dreams:
To recognise God’s faithfulness
The bible is full of passages where they remembered how God was faithful in carrying out His word to them.
My favourite is the example of Joshua, who led the people of Israel to inherit the land God had promised them. God had spoken many things through Moses, and Joshua was told to regularly review those words (Joshua 1:8). So, at key moments, Joshua read them aloud to Israel.
Once they were finally settled in the land, Joshua was able to look back and say that God had been faithful! They had regularly reviewed God’s words, and they had seen how He had been faithful to bring them all about.
- Joshua 21:45 NASB Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; everything came to pass.
God speaks many promises to us personally through our dreams. If we review them regularly, we will be able to see how God has been faithful to us. I have done this with my own dreams for the past 15 years – and can personally testify to how the things He said to me came to pass.
When we review what God has said to us in the past, we can see how that ties in with what actually happened – and we develop our own personal testimony of how God has been faithful.
To inspire thanks and praise
Remembering God’s faithfulness inevitably leads to thankfulness – and often fuels our praise and worship. Just think of wonderful hymns like Great is Thy Faithfulness!
The song of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15 is a great example. Most people know how God promised to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egyrt, and how He parted the Red Sea with a great miracle to save them. Afterwards they gave thanks and worshipped God with a song:
- Exodus 15:20-21, NASB Miriam the prophetess… took the tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam answered them, “Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted…”
This song was their way of constantly reminding themselves of how God had been faithful to fulfil His word to them.
- 1 Chronicles 16:34, NASB Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His faithfulness is everlasting.
As we review what God said through our dreams, and link that with witnessing His faithfulness in our life, it produces the fruit of a thankful heart and fuels our worship.
To give us hope for the future
Reviewing what God has said and done also leads to hope for the future. Consider this verse from Lamentations, which was written by the prophet Jeremiah during a particularly difficult time in Israel’s history:
- Lamentations 3:21-23, ESV But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations was a lament for the fall of Jerusalem and the fact that the people had been taken into captivity. Yet, even in those darkest times, Jeremiah had hope.
He was familiar with what God had said and done in the past, so he was able to call those things to mind and rise above what he saw in the natural; he was still able to have hope for the future. He knew that what was happening was part of a bigger plan for ultimate good.
We can experience the same thing through reviewing our dream messages; there will be dark times in our lives when we truly need the hope of knowing what God has said to us.
By remembering God’s faithfulness in the past, and reviewing what He has said in our dreams about our current situation and our future, we can rise above what we see in the natural. We can find reason to have hope.
To build faith
There are numerous occasions throughout the bible where God spoke to someone, or sent them a message, which gave them the faith they needed to great things. Check out Hebrews 11 for many great examples.
Consider Gideon, who at the start of his story was cowering in a wine press to hide from the Midianites. He was certainly not full of faith; but he went on to achieve remarkable things through the faith God imparted to him.
His story is particularly interesting to us, because God used the dream of one of the Midianites to give Gideon the faith he needed to lead Israel to victory. You can read the story in Judges 7. Here are the key parts:
…the Lord said to Gideon, “…If you are afraid…, go… and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” …
Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.” His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”Judges 7:9-15, NIV
In the same way, God speaks through our dreams to build faith for what He wants to do in our lives. Faith is a gift from God – but it comes through hearing from Him. If we have forgotten what He said to us then it is no use to us and we can’t access that faith! That is why we need to regularly review what He has said to us.
- Romans 10:17, NASB So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
The more we meditate on the words and the messages from God that He imparts in our dreams, the more we can receive the faith we need for our particular situation and what we need to do.
To enable us to act on it
One of the main reasons to keep in our minds what God has said to us is so we can do it!
- Psalm 103:17-18, NASB But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting for those who… remember His precepts, so as to do them.
We have already thought about the example of Joshua, and how he kept God’s words to Israel alive by thinking about them constantly; he did this so that the people could carry out everything they had been told to do – and thus be successful!
- Joshua 1:8, NASB This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.
In the same way, when we take His messages seriously and put them into practice we can enjoy the blessing that comes through obedience.
If God has given us specific guidance in our dreams, it is helpful to remember what He has said, otherwise we can’t follow it!
To fuel our prayers
Sometimes we need to rediscover what God has said so we can stand on His promises and choose to trust in them.
This happened to the prophet Daniel. One day he was reviewing the words God had spoken to the prophet Jeremiah, when suddenly he realised that some of them were relevant and due to be fulfilled; he took them to God in prayer.
- Daniel 9:2-3,NASB …I, Daniel, observed in the books… the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet… So I gave my attention to the Lord God, to seek Him by prayer…
As he did so, and amazing thing happened! The angel Gabriel appeared with an answer, and gave him further understanding! Now that is a good reason to review God’s messages to us!!
In the same way, as we review our dreams, we start to see things that are relevant to our situation and we can begin to pray and talk to God about them.
To be prepared when the time comes
Sometimes God speaks about things that will happen months of years later.
A primary example is the things Jesus told His disciples. While He was physically with them, He told them many things that they did not understand. They could not understand until they had witnessed Jesus’ deaths and resurrection; that was the key that unlocked their understanding; they were unable to make the mental shift until after it had happened.
- John 16:4, NASB But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
In the same way, some of our dreams are about things that will happen months or years later. Therefore, we need to have a way to regularly review them – so they can activate at the time they become relevant.
Usually, something happens in our life that is the key that unlocks the meaning of dreams we haven’t understood yet. As we apply that key to our dreams, we start to see what God is saying through them.
Reviewing our dreams regularly gives us a better chance of having God’s messages to hand at the time we actually need them!
To adjust our understanding
The Israelites had misunderstood many of the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. Therefore, when He came, many of them did not recognise him as their Messiah. Those who did had to undergo a major shift in their thinking. The Apostle Paul is a great example of a Jewish believer who had to re-evaluate everything he knew in the light of Jesus!
The first Jewish Christians had to re-evaluate their understanding of Scripture in the light of Jesus.
In the same way, sometimes we completely misunderstand what God is saying through our dreams. But then, something happens – or we have a realisation that causes us to adjust our thinking – and our dreams suddenly makes sense!
I have often reviewed my dreams with hindsight – and discovered I had misunderstood many of them! In these cases is usually a relief to finally have the correct meaning.
Reviewing our dreams with hindsight facilitates our journey towards understanding their meaning – resulting in a sense of rightness and confidence when we finally grasp the God-given messages in them.
How to review your dreams
Some dreams are about issues that we are facing at the time. I sometimes ask God a question before I go to bed, and the answer comes that night. But many times that doesn’t happen – which is why we need to review them later.
So let’s begin! I always start with prayer – and ask God to mentor me through the whole review process:
1. Develop a good record system
To review our dreams, we need to have them recorded in a way that makes it easy to do so. Trawling through endless old computer entries, scraps of paper or journal entries is enough to put anyone off! So, I recommend developing a simple summary system.
I wrote about that in this article: How to organise your dreams so you can remember their messages. If you haven’t yet got a system for organising your dreams – check it out and start one now!
As I explained in that article, I keep a colour-coded summary list to help me remember my dreams. I update this list each time I review my dreams.
- I use yellow to highlight dreams I want to remember.
- I use green to highlight timing dreams so I can find them quickly.
- I use blue to highlight dreams I want to come back to, either because I didn’t understand them or felt I hadn’t got the right interpretation.
- If the right-hand column is blank, it just means I haven’t had time to look at it yet.
2. Plan weekly dream reviews
I try to review my list once a week. I don’t always manage it, but I dream most nights – so it keeps the number of dreams I have to review manageable if I do. I schedule time on a Monday for doing this because it’s the best day for me. Choose a time that works for you.
This is what I do during this time:
- I add all the new dreams I have had to the list – starting with the date and title.
- I look up each new dream in my original entry and review my interpretation. If I am happy with it, I add an interpretation summary to the right-hand column of my list.
- If not, I spend time trying to interpret it, writing further notes and interpretation ideas under the original dream entry. I then add the revised interpretation summary to my list. If I still have no idea of the meaning I leave it blank but shaded in blue.
- I colour code all my entries according to my system.
- I add any significant life events or things God has spoken to me about through other ways.
I find weekly reviews are a good frrequency to aim for. I understand many dreams at this time that I didn’t intially; things happen during the week that unlock what God was saying. Often God gives lots of dreams about the same subject, and once you understand one dream then they all start making sense.
Weekly reviews are a good frequency to aim for.
Conversely, if you leave them too long before you review them you can forget what was on your mind at the time of dreaming – and it gets harder to relate them to real life.
3. Schedule long-term dream reviews
Make sure to schedule times to do a longer-term review and revisit your older dreams. The purpose of doing this is to look back over the last few months (or even up to a year) and check your interpretations with hindsight. Here are some reasons why:
- Some dreams are about things that will happen a few weeks, months, or even year later – so they can only be understood by revisiting them at that time.
- Dreams around New Year commonly address things for the coming year, and in the summer break they are about the coming school year. So they can become relevant at any time during the subsequent year.
I try to do this at least three times a year. If I can, I also do a monthly review, as it helps keep on top of things – but life often gets in the way of that!
For me, this means blocking out a day or two in my calendar. I see it as taking time out to listen to God – something I value and am prepared to prioritise. When my kids were young, I was known to book time off work or rise at 4am while the family was still asleep to do it! If you want to do this, you are going to have to plan for it too.
This is what I do during this time:
- I look at my dream list, reviewing a month at a time.
- I briefly check each entry to see whether my interpretation still feels right, or whether I am now suspecting it might be about something different to what I originally thought.
- For those dreams, plus ones I highlighted in blue or left blank, I go back to my original dream journal and have another go at interpreting them.
- I add notes to my dream journal and update my dream list accordingly.
Learning from your dreams
This is the part where dream interpretation really gets exciting! Wonderful things start happening if we set aside dedicated time to listen to God in this way. Some of the following can happen:
- Lots of our dreams line up with each other and make sense.
- We begin to see multiple confirmations of ideas we had been vaguely wondering about.
- Once the main themes become clear we can be more confident about what God is saying.
- Our mindsets start to shift and align with truth.
- We have multiple ‘a-ha’ moments.
- We can see with hindsight what the elements in our dreams symbolised.
- Our confidence in dreams as a way of hearing from God grows.
- We truly connect with God and start to understand His plan for us.
- We learn more about God’s heart and ways.
During these review times I find I discover dreams I had forgotten about that suddenly become relevant to my current situation. Reading lots of dreams together means I see patterns.
Something in one dream will relate to something I have been thinking – and lots of other dreams will suddenly open up. I often need to change the interpretation of many of my dreams as my understanding shifts – but it is a relief to have that sense of rightness.
I often need to change the interpretation of many of my dreams as my understanding shifts.
The benefits we discussed at the beginning come into play: We recognize that God has been faithful to keep His words to us, we respond in worship and thankfulness, we find faith and hope for the future, we can take appropriate action, and we can pray in agreement with what God has said.
And most importantly – our confidence and skill as dream interpreters grows. We have a track record from seeing how God related to us through our dreams – which we can build on with future dreams.
The bible contains some great examples of why we should review the things God has said to us – including the messages in our dreams:
- To recognise God’s faithfulness
- To inspire thanks and praise
- To give us hope for the future
- To build faith
- To enable us to act on it
- To fuel our prayers
- To be prepared when the time comes
- To adjust our understanding and learn
At a practical level, we have seen that it is useful to do the following:
- Keep a summary list of dreams to use as a starting point.
- Schedule a weekly dream review to add new dreams to our list.
- Schedule time for a more thorough review at strategic moments throughout the year – so we can review our old dreams, revise our interpretations with the benefit of hindsight, and learn from them.
Reviewing our dreams is the secret sauce to growing as dream interpreters – as we learn so much in the process!
If you already have a system for reviewing your dream messages in a way that helps you, do share in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you do!
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The purpose of this blog is to provide biblical foundations for interpreting dreams 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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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Jennifer Needham disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.
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Bible verses, prayers, actions and affirmations for preparing you to receive dreams from God.
Patterns and cycles in dreams and their interpretation
How God speaks in patterns and cycles – and what this means when interpreting dreams.
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- Why you don’t need a prophetic gift to interpret dreams
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4 thoughts on “How to review your dream messages and learn from them”
This is great, Jenny! Love the organizational tips. I still use physical journals and place different colored page flags. Your system makes older dreams much easier to find. It’s also amazing how the Lord will repeat the same message in a different dream. Have you found that reading dreams is a lot like reading Scripture in that you can see a deeper application after the second or third review? It is so true that some are definitely clearer in hindsight. Another interesting observation, the Holy Spirit will hide the revelation until the right time, so it is wise to set a dream aside for a while and look again later with fresh eyes. Thanks for this post. Blessings! Jacquie
Thanks Jacquie, yes I have found that reading dreams is very similar to Scripture – in so many ways! I guess it’s not surprising if the same God inspires both 😊. I wrote about something similar in ‘one main meaning, many levels’.
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Thanks for this Jenny…really helpful, practical wisdom to enable us to receive more through revisiting our dreams. I took up your suggestion several weeks ago and have a dream record like you’ve shared. One further column I found useful to add for myself was WHERE the dream is recorded. This is because I have some on dream sheets, some in a physical journal, some on loose paper, and some on my iPhone notes! It just helps me to remember where to look if I need to see the original dream record again.
Thanks David! It’s encouraging to hear that you are developing your own system. Jenny