Why the church can’t afford to ignore night dreams any longer – and it’s time to take them seriously!
In the western church we have largely forgotten the skill of understanding our dreams.
This article is a wake up call; I believe it is time that we woke up from our slumber and started taking them seriously!
In this article I share ten good reasons why we can no longer afford to ignore 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.
- A change of thinking for the church
- Will you get in the boat?
A change of thinking for the church
I have been a follower of Jesus for over 40 years, and more than 20 years in church leadership. Over that time I have witnessed many changes. One of those changes is an increase of interest in night dreams, and an awareness of their importance.
As a young Christian I knew virtually nothing abut dreams. I thought they were just my mind processing life; that’s what we were taught by society. But then I discovered the late John Paul Jackson and his teaching on dreams, and I realised that God was speaking to me though my dreams – and had been all my life!
Since then, for more than 15 years, I have studied and prayed though every dream I could remember on waking. I have interpreted them in the light of the bible and my relationship with God.
I have come to the conclusion that it is vital that the church regains this skill, particularly in the western church where night dreams have largely been dismissed as irrelevant.
I have identified ten good reasons why it is vital for the church to embrace dreams and learn to understand them again. If you are open to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying, then join me in this prayer:
1. To follow the biblical example
As Christians, our first reference point is whether dreams are considered important in the bible. If they are, then surely we should take notice of them?
I carried out a search for dreams in the bible, and discovered move then twenty examples – each with different characteristics and purposes.
Many of them are recorded in the Old Testament, going back even to the time of Abraham! Some are well known (like those interpreted by Joseph and Daniel), and some are not. Did you know that God spoke to King Solomon in a dream, or that Jacob received a business strategy in a dream? Dreams also feature in the New Testament, particularly around the time of Jesus’ birth.
Here are a couple of bible verses about dreams:
- Numbers 12:6, NASB Now hear My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make Myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream.
- Joel 2:28, NASB It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters will prophesy, Your old men will have dreams, Your young men will see visions.
There are many more references. If you’re not convinced, check out the blowing articles:
In the western church, I think we have allowed culture to dictate or thinking about dreams – rather than looking to the examples in the bible and what God says about them.
- Romans 12:2, The Passion Translation (TPT) Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think.
I suggest that our thinking needs to change!
Dreams are taken seriously in the bible and accepted as a way God communicates and meets with His followers. Therefore, as Christians, we should take them seriously too.
2. To Keep Jesus at the centre
The church, by definition, exists because of Jesus Christ. Jesus founded it; His death and resurrection are at the heart of everything we do. In Colossians, Paul tells us that Christ is the head of the church, and that He holds everything together.
- Colossians 1:18, TPT He is the Head of his body, which is the church. And since he is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection, he is the most exalted One, holding first place in everything.
In Revelation, John tells us how he saw a vision of Jesus walking among lampstands; each lampstand represented a church, and Jesus spoke specific words to each church – as their head.
- Revelation 1:13,20, TPT And walking among the lampstands, I saw someone like a son of man, wearing a full-length robe with a golden sash over his chest….the seven lampstands are the seven churches…
Jesus is the same today as He was then. He decides when a church is to be planted and when it should come to an end. In modern day language, Jesus is our boss! I have come to see dreams as my morning message from heaven. It is like reading the morning email from our boss.
In modern day language, Jesus is our boss – and dreams are like our daily email from Him!
If your boss emailed you at the start of each working day, it would be foolish to ignore it and carry on working without reading it. So how much more important it is to listen to those morning messages from heaven – and see what our founder and leader has to say to us each day.
I have found that God personally crafts dreams for me night after night – and I am convinced he does the same for every single human being. As Jesus’ followers, we need to listen to those heavenly messages, otherwise we are not giving Him the priority He deserves in the church.
As Christians, if we are serious about keeping Jesus at the centre, we need to take notice of the nightly messages He sends us in our dreams!
3. To hear God’s voice
As Christians, we know that Jesus promised that His followers would be able to hear His voice. He is our Shepherd, and we are His sheep.
- John 10:11, 27, TPT I am the Good Shepherd…My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow me.
Jesus was very clear on this matter; yet many Christians struggle to know how to hear God’s voice! I certainly did; yes, I know that God does speak though the bible and many other ways, but in the past it all seemed very vague and uncertain to me. I was never very sure that I had heard correctly.
- Matthew 28:20, NIV And surely I am with you always…
Maybe hearing God is something you find hard too? Jesus promised to always be with us; so surely He would not leave us feeling disconnected?
For more than 25 years of following Jesus I struggled to hear his voice. Then, in 2006, I discovered that He was speaking in my dreams – then everything made sense! God had been speaking all along – just like He promised; I just hadn’t realised how He was speaking to me!
If you check out the overview of dreams in the bible, you will find that God met with people in dreams; He gave them guidance, direction and strategies; He sent heavenly messengers – all in dreams. It was a major way that He communicated with people, and they were able to hear Him clearly.
If you struggle to hear God, maybe dreams are the missing piece you’ve been looking for. It does take effort: You need to learn symbolic language – but it’s worth it.
As Christians, we owe it to one another to learn to hear God’s voice – and to help one another do the same. It is our inheritance in Christ; and if that means putting in the effort to learn to understand our dreams – then so be it!
4. To learn God’s language
I have spent many hours learning to understand dreams. Dreams are symbolic; they are like illustrations or parables relating to our life. By interpreting dreams it inevitably means learning this language – and it requires self discipline, effort and perseverance.
But there are some unexpected spin-offs from engaging with the process. It turns out that God uses symbolism to speak to us all the time – not just in dreams!
For a start, the bible is full of metaphors, similes and parables. The better we are at understanding symbolism, the more God will be able to speak to us through the biblical imagery.
The better we are at understanding symbolism, the more God will be able to speak to us through it
But it’s not just the bible; God uses symbolism to speak though prophetic words, visions and pictures. He also speaks through the world around us, though life events and though art and media – to name but a few.
It turns out that learning to interpret dreams is a doorway to hearing God in all sorts of other ways – all the time! We become tuned to His voice and start seeing and hearing Him everywhere. This has been my experience, and it can be yours too.
Learning the language of dreams is learning God’s language. It sets us up for hearing God in many other ways. That is something that, as a church, we can’t afford to miss!
As Christians, it is vital that we become attuned to the language of our God and learn to recognise it all the time – and dreams can help with that.
5) To develop our relationship with God.
In the church we continually tell one another that being a Christian Is about a relationship, not religion. It is something we are quite proud of, and often say that it sets us apart from other religions.
As the human race, our relationship with God was catastrophically damaged in the garden of Eden. But we know that Jesus came and died on a cross to reclaim what was lost. He suffered great agony at the hands of mankind so that our relationship with God could be restored.
Jesus said that He calls us friends. I heard about this, and became a follower of Jesus because I wanted that kind of friendship with God. I suspect many of you desire the same thing.
- John 15:15, NIV I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
But, in the same way we struggle to hear God’s voice, many Christians struggle to know what relationship with God looks like!
I did too, until I started taking note of my dreams. Almost instantly I felt a new kind of connection with God; something that I had desired all my life. Since then I have actually met Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Father God in my dreams. I have a regular ongoing conversation where God answers my questions and shows me His perspective.
At long last, I feel like I have a true relationship with God. My regular morning quiet time has also been revitalised. If I have had a dream, I talk to God about it; and it becomes part of our ongoing conversation.
As Christians, we do need to find ways to connect with God personally. If dreams can help us do that, then surely they are worth pursuing.
6. To obtain specific guidance
When we decide to follow Jesus, there is an understanding that we should seek His guidance for our life. I think that is what most of us desire. He is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path; we trust that He has a good plan for our life and we seek to walk in it.
- Psalm 119:105, NASB Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Like the people of Israel setting out to cross the Jordan river, we must let God lead us where we have never been before. This means fixing our eyes on Him. But how do we do that? How do we know what we are meant to do? How do we get this guidance?
Dreams are one of the best ways I know for obtaining heavenly guidance. In the bible, guidance was a common reason that God spoke in dreams. Check out God speaking to Abimelech and Jacob in the Old Testament, and Joseph in the New Testament for some great examples. I, like many other Christians, regularly receive personally-tailored guidance through my dreams.
In the current climate where everything is constantly shifting and changing, this is more relevant than ever! We need to be able to hear God’s direction for our life.
As Christians, I suggest that we can’t afford to ignore the guidance God gives us in our dreams; we need it more than ever to successfully navigate life. To follow Jesus and fulfil the plans He has for us, we need His personal leading – and He often provides it through dreams.
7. To aid personal transformation
When we first believe in Jesus it is just the beginning of a great adventure! Scripture tells is that we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; we must enlist the help of the Holy Spirit in the process. This involves change!
- Philippians 2:12, NASB So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Thankfully not everything is transformed at once. We enter into a process of having our mind renewed and our character refined. In essence – we start the journey of becoming more like Jesus.
- Romans 12:2, NASB …be transformed by the renewing of your mind…
I find dreams invaluable in this process. God uses them to circumnavigate my mind and reveal blind spots that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. He uses dreams to reveal strongholds and enemy activity. But he also uses them to encourage me in the progress I have made and show me where I are headed so I can see why it’s worth persevering.
God uses dreams to explain why things are happening to us, and to let us know the things He wants to work on at any particular time. The things He shows us in dreams can inspire us to become more like the person we were created to be.
As Christians, we are meant to be transformed. God lovingly leads us in this process, and uses dreams to help us understand what is happening and how to cooperate.
8. To connect with heaven
Believing in God and Jesus requires believing in a supernatural world – and in a heaven where God’s throne resides.
In Ephesians, Paul tells us that we are seated in the heavenly places with Christ and that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers in the spiritual realm. We are exhorted to fix our eyes on heavenly things and walk by faith, not by what we see in the natural.
- Ephesians 2:6, NASB …and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
- Colossians 3:2, NASB Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.
These are things that are easy to say but hard to do! We are used to living in the natural, so how can we fix our mind on heavenly things?
This is where dreams are invaluable! I have found that when I go to sleep my mind shuts down but my heart and spirit are awake and receptive to God.
- Song of Solomon 5:2, NASB I was asleep but my heart was awake.
I have met angels in my dreams and received heavenly messages – just like Daniel, Solomon and Joseph in the bible. Occasionally it feels as though I have been in heavenly places. But even the usual mundane, everyday dreams bring some degree of heavenly perspective to my life, and I find them vital for spiritual understanding and building my faith.
As Christians we are called to fix our mind on heavenly things. When we are asleep our spirit is still awake – so our dreams are a great way to receive messages and insight from our heavenly Father.
9. To reach out to others
We know that everybody dreams, and that there is a great deal of interest in dreams in the world. Just look on Google to see the amount of information out there! Many people have had dreams that intrigue them – and they are looking for answers.
So here’s a question to ponder: If we, as followers of Jesus, do not have the ability to help these, where will they go? They will seek out anything that offers help.
If the church cannot help people with dreams, they will look elsewhere!
Both Joseph and Daniel in the bible interpreted dreams in a climate where many people – magicians and otherwise – offered dream interpretations; but only God could offer the real meaning and provide life-giving answers to those people.
We are in a similar position today.
I have had many conversations about dreams with work colleagues. If you know God’s character and some basic biblical imagery, it is usually quite easy to see what a dream might be about. They are often God calling that person to Himself in some way or addressing their worries.
I also know people who regularly use dream interpretation for outreach at events – with good success.
We all have friends and family who don’t know Jesus – but they do dream. Surely we want to be prepared so we can see when God is speaking to them – and be on hand to help! If dreams can help people we know see that God cares about them, and is speaking to them – then that alone is worth taking the time to learn to understand them!
As Christians we have been commissioned to make disciples – and we would dearly love our friends and family to know and experience a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Dreams can open doors to conversations, so it’s worth being ready for those opportunities!
Real dream example:
When I was first learning about dreams I dreamt my sister-in-law (who I did dream training with) took the car on my front drive. She drove it over the road and bashed into some of the doors of my neighbours houses – and they came out!
I understood that my sister-in-law represented dream interpretation – as we trained in it together. The front drive was the future and the car was dreams. So this was an encouragement to carry on with dreams; understanding them would be a way to reach other people and draw them out to talk about God (i.e. come out of their doors!).
10. To restore what was lost
As I mentioned at the start, I have seen many changes in the church over my 40 years of following Jesus. I have seen many things restored, like prophecy, healing, and Spirit-filled worship. Some of those things were quite a battleground for a while – until they were more widely accepted as normal.
Dreams are another one of those things.
Dreams were a normal way of hearing from God in the bible and in the early church. We have already discussed dreams in the bible, but God has continued to speak to His people through dreams since then.
I found a great article from cwgministries.org which describes dreams throughout church history:
It seems to me that in the western church we have forgotten something important. But there are some encouraging signs. I have noticed:
- An increase in friends and colleagues asking me about dreams
- The emergence of a number of well-written Christian books about dreams
- An increase in well known ministries offering training in dream interpretation
- Respected prophets posting dreams regularly and treating them as words from God
- An increase in individuals blogging and sharing on social media about dreams
But we still have a way to go.
Since the beginning, as far back as Abraham and beyond, God has made a way for us all to stay in contact with Him. It is a shame that it means we have to be asleep – but it is better than no way at all! How sad that we have forgotten this truth – and are missing out on something so vital.
As Christians, it is time to embrace what we’ve lost, and cooperate with God as He restores this precious gift – of our nightly connection with Him – to the church.
Will you get in the boat?
While I was preparing to write this post I saw a picture:
I saw a large expanse of water. The other side was far away; too far to cross. Nobody would even think about trying to go there. Then I saw Jesus. He was in a boat. He said ‘I don’t expect you to walk on water – I just ask you to get in the boat with me!’
‘I don’t expect you to walk on water – I just ask you to get in the boat with me!’
The boat represents dreams. The other side of the water represents walking in relationship with God; really walking with Him, and hearing him clearly, not just talking about it!
Dreams are a stepping stone towards true relationship with God – which is something we all desire as followers of Jesus. They are a step of faith we can take; and if we do, Jesus will mentor us and lead us on to new levels with Him!
So, will you get in the boat? Will you take a step of faith by learning about dreams? Maybe you could ask God to give you a dream and then see what happens? You could take some training and start talking to God about them.
Why not give it a go? You might find Jesus is waiting for you there!
We have considered ten reasons why we need to embrace dreams again in the church today:
- To follow the biblical example
- To keep Jesus at the centre
- To hear God’s voice
- To learn God’s language
- To develop our relationship with God
- To obtain specific guidance
- To aid personal transformation
- To connect with heaven
- To reach out to others
- To restore that which was lost
As a generation we have largely forgotten the skill of understanding our dreams. Our children are growing up not knowing that God is speaking to them during the night.
It is time that we woke up and started taking dreams seriously! It is time we talked abut them over breakfast in our homes, and in our small groups.
It is time we remembered that we are created for a relationship with God, and He has not left us without a universal method of connecting with Him: Our dreams! Let’s not waste it!
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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