How biblical dream interpretation can help release faith, grow our faith, and help us live out a life of faith.
What is faith?
How can we have more faith?
This article explores those questions, plus more, from a biblical perspective – to discover how interpreting our dreams can help with faith.
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 to give you a foundation, plus my Beginner’s guide to biblical dream interpretation .
- What is faith?
- How dreams can help with faith
- Dream symbols for faith
What is faith?
If you are reading this blog and looking for a biblical perspective, you probably want to increase your faith. Jesus said, “It shall be done for you according to your faith.” (Matthew 9:29, NIV).
But what is faith? And how can dreams help?
Faith is such a huge subject and has many facets to it, which I can’t hope to cover in this post, so I have chosen some of the key aspects. Firstly we will take a biblical overview of faith, and then see how dreams can help.
Faith is strongly linked to trust and confidence, as the Cambridge dictionary puts it:
FAITH: Great trust or confidence in something or someone.Cambridge dictionary
In this article I am talking about faith in God. This type of faith involves having confidence in the character and faithfulness of God and trusting him to do what he has promised.
- Psalm 100:5, NASB For the Lord is good… And His faithfulness is to all generations.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:24, NLV The One Who called you is faithful and will do what He promised.
- Hebrews 10:3, NIV Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
In other words, our faith is based on God’s faithfulness!
How do we get faith?
Faith is not a blind leap, but a decision to trust based on reasonable evidence. It involves having confidence in God for the specific situation we are trusting him for. That means we need to have something that personally gives us confidence. It doesn’t come from nowhere.
If faith is trusting God based on his word, as it says in Romans 10 below, then it follows that we must have heard from him at some point regarding our situation!
- Romans 10:17, NASB So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
There are many general aspects of God’s character that we can always rely on – and the bible is a great place to discover them. I wrote about some of those in Knowing God’s heart and ways. If we have faith in God, we can trust him to relate to us according to those attributes.
But we need to hear God’s word for us personally, and that can come in many ways. The main point is that it must come from the Holy Spirit (who is ‘Christ in us’) – and have the conviction that goes with it.
Faith can also come from seeing demonstrations of God’s power and hearing other people’s testimonies – when accompanied by that inner conviction.
- 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. NASB …my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of mankind, but on the power of God.
Faith and action
Faith is not just a belief – but also involves action according to that belief. In other words, faith is a decision to do something (or live in a certain way) based on our confidence and trust in God and what he has said to us.
James has much to say about this in his letter:
- James 2:14, CEV My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show you really do have faith?
- James 2:22, CEV Abraham’s faith and deeds worked together. He proved his faith was real by what he did.
In Hebrews 11 there is a famous list of people who demonstrated faith – and it’s worth checking out. Take a look and see how many of them did things that proved their faith.
In practice, the bigger the step of faith and the more risk involved, the more we must be sure that it’s coming from God – so we would look for confirmations of the word.
The faith gap
Faith inherently implies that we do not have concrete evidence yet for what we are hoping for.
There is an infamous ‘faith gap’, which is the interval between hearing God’s word – and the thing he promised coming to pass. I love the definition of faith found in Hebrews:
- Hebrews 11:1, NASB Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen.
So, faith involves living as though what God says is true – until such a time as it becomes true! Sometimes it is easy and just means living in a certain way (like when we say someone has faith). But sometimes it requires great obedience, courage, and sacrifice.
“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”St Augustine
The faith gap could last for any length of time. It is the hope of what is promised that provides the motivation to live in faith until it happens, or to take a step of faith. Jesus is the prime example of this:
- Hebrews 12:2, NASB …looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Growing our faith
Jesus compared faith to a mustard seed. He told this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a person took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all the other seeds, but when it is fully grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”Matthew 13:31-21, NASB
My point in sharing this parable is that faith grows! It doesn’t matter how small our faith is; even if we have a tiny amount of faith, if we act on it – and see God come through for us as a result – then it grows!
This dream I had in 2019 illustrates this:
I dreamed I saw a man with a dog. The man lit a fire and the dog jumped into it out of panic – and then ran away crazily. The man decided to train the dog. He lit a smaller fire to start with and focused on keeping the dog calm. He would gradually increase the size of the fire.
This dream showed me God’s strategy. He was going to increase my faith by giving me increasing challenges (i.e. increasing the fire). This has certainly happened over the past few years!
Trials and tests of faith
Growing our faith inevitably involves trials and testing – and it is not an easy process.
Joseph is a great biblical example of this. He believed the dreams God gave him about his destiny in Genesis 37. But it was nearly 14 years before they came to pass in Genesis 42. During the interim, he had to endure being sold into slavery, falsely accused, and being imprisoned. All of these tested his character and proved his faith.
- James 1:2-4, NASB Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- 1 Peter 1:7, NIV These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
God develops our faith
So, to conclude, faith comes from God – and it is a gift that we receive. There is even a gift of faith mentioned in 1 Corinthians.
- Ephesians 2:8, NIV For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
- Romans 12:3, NASB God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
- 1 Corinthians 12:9, NLV One person receives the gift of faith. Another person receives the gifts of healing. These gifts are given by the same Holy Spirit.
We can ask for more faith. However, ask with caution, because growing our faith usually involves going through times of testing! The greater measure of faith we have, the greater testing will be required of us to prove and grow that faith.
I have discovered through first-hand experience that God is committed to developing our faith – and will do it whether we are ready or not. So let us eagerly ask for more faith – and expect those God-given opportunities to grow it.
How dreams can help with faith
I have been interpreting dreams in the light of my relationship with God for more than 15 years. My dream journey has been the single most important factor in increasing my faith during that time.
Here are some of the ways dreams have helped:
Hearing God’s word through dreams
We have already discussed how faith comes through hearing the word of God.
In order to walk by faith, we need to be sure that our faith is truly grounded on God’s living word for our specific situation. In that way, it will be on solid foundations. Jesus put it this way:
- Matthew 7:24, NASB “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock…”
It is certainly true that God speaks to us through the general wisdom in the bible and builds faith through that – and the Holy Spirit can highlight verses that are relevant to our situation.
But dreams contain specific wisdom from heaven in astonishing detail – all tailored to our personal situation. God can give us promises and prophecies in dreams – both in direct words and through the symbolic illustrations.
Read more about this at: General wisdom vs specific wisdom.
I have tested out my dreams over the past 15 years by reviewing them with hindsight. I have made some bold decisions based on what God spoke to me through them, and, so far, I have not been disappointed. I have found them to be reliable – like the rock Jesus spoke about.
We must still be careful because we can misinterpret our dreams. But when we hit on the God-inspired meaning of a dream, there is usually a ‘ping’ moment in our spirit when we ‘know-that-we-know’ that we have got the right interpretation. All the parts of the dream tie up and it makes sense. And when that happens, faith rises.
In practice, we can expect to receive more than one confirmation of God’s word. We can expect to have a number of dreams conveying the same message in different ways, as well as confirmations through the bible, real-life signs, and in many other ways.
The bigger the risk, the more ways we can expect God to confirm his word before we act in faith.
Engaging heaven through dreams
We have seen from Hebrews 11:1 that faith is being certain of the things we cannot see. The bible tells us to walk by faith, not by our natural understanding.
- 2 Corinthians 5:7, NASB for we walk by faith, not by sight.
To walk by faith, we must live from a heavenly perspective rather than a natural, earthly one. We must believe that God exists and that there is a spiritual realm that effects what happens in the natural world.
- Hebrews 11:6, NASB And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He… rewards those who seek Him.
I have become convinced through experience that when we go to sleep, our minds switch off and our spirits become alive. We can encounter God, Jesus, and heavenly beings. We can interact with heaven and receive heavenly messages.
All these encounters are wonderful for building our faith, and vital for bringing heaven to earth. And the good news is that everybody dreams (although we may not aways remember them), so that means we all have a potential way of walking by faith.
Here is a summary of a dream I recently received from one of my readers:
In my dream, I was in a dark place. I couldn’t see my surrounds, but I felt at peace. I knew there were other people with me, but I didn’t see any faces, I just knew they were there. A woman with white hair passed me some papers. It was all written in Hebrew with black and gold letters. She said, “Your calling is your faith!” And then I woke up.
This dream was most likely an encounter with the Holy Spirit (aka the white-haired woman) – and she was talking to the dreamer about faith!
The Hebrew writing was a reference to the book of Hebrews, specifically Hebrews 11:1 (about faith, being certain of what we cannot see). The feeling of being sure people were there (even though the dreamer couldn’t see them) is a direct picture of that verse. The black and gold writing were confirming the message: Gold can be about testing and black is mystery (things not seen yet).
So God was calling them to a life of faith (i.e. trusting God for things yet unseen) and to grow in faith through testing. Maybe they have the gift of faith which needs to be developed!
Building faith from past dreams
We have already seen how remembering God’s faithfulness helps build faith. This can only happen after time has passed, as we look back at what God said and compare it to what happened in practice.
- Isaiah 25:1, NASB I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.
Developing a lifestyle of interpreting dreams is a great way to do this.
In my Beginner’s Guide I recommend developing a system for organising and reviewing dreams, which means revisiting our old dreams with hindsight – and matching their messages to what happened in real life.
I recently carried out a review of last year’s dreams. It had been a difficult year, and I hadn’t understood many of my dreams. But as I looked back over them with hindsight, I could see that, all along, God was speaking about what was coming from his perspective – and it was all fulfilled! Through that process my attitude changed from feeling down about things to feeling full of faith – because I now understood what God was doing.
Seeing how God has fulfilled past dreams in our own life gives us a personal testimony of God’s faithfulness. This builds faith and gives us the confidence to trust him for the future.
And if what we thought they were saying doesn’t happen, we can go back and work out why we misunderstood them. Faith grows as we begin to see what God was really saying. And we learn from it.
Dreams about our faith journey
And finally, dreams can give us insight into where we are in our faith journey:
- They can alert us when times of trials or testing are coming up.
- They can alert us when our faith is going to be stretched.
- They can tell us how long we are going to have to hold on.
- They can encourage us to keep holding on when we can’t see.
When we are walking by faith without seeing any tangible results, it is a lifeline to hear from God about where we are in the process. It can make the difference between carrying on and giving up.
Check out the table further down, where I have given some examples of what this might look like in our dreams.
Dream symbols for faith
There are a few symbols that God has used in my dreams to represent faith. Plus, there are some symbols for faith in the bible.
Gap: When there is a gap or crevice in a dream, it could be a faith gap (the gap between what you are experiencing now and what you are hoping for in the future). For example, if the gap is too big, we don’t have faith to do it yet. If we only just make it across it is probably going to stretch our faith.
Gold (or silver) can be about refining (i.e. testing) of our faith.
Hebrew: Hebrews is one of the main books in the bible that talks about faith. So, for example, something written in Hebrew could be an indicator that a dream is about faith.
Holding on: Faith is sometimes described as ‘holding on’ to God or his promises. So in a positive context, holding onto something might be about faith.
Nothing under feet: When there is nothing underneath our feet, then there is no concrete evidence to stand on, so could be about faith. Plus, any kind of dream about launching off something (like a cliff or big drop, or jumping out of an aeroplane) in a positive context (i.e. it was a good thing or necessary in the dream) can be about faith.
Shield: The shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).
Steps: Steps can indicate taking steps of faith. E.g., if the step is too big, we don’t have enough faith for it yet. There could also be stepping-stones or something similar.
Taking a test: Depending on the context, this could be about undergoing a test of faith.
Tea bag: This is a wordplay for Hebrews (as in ‘he brews’) and links to Hebrews11:1. In English we use a tea bag to make (brew) a cup of tea. Faith needs walking out for a time (brewing) before the promise becomes reality (we drink our cup of tea).
The name – Faith: A person called Faith could represent faith in a dream. There could also be a person whose name means faith when you look it up. (The Name Book by Dorothy Astoria is a useful reference).
The name – James: James is one of the books in the bible that’s known for its teaching about faith. So, a person called James in a dream might indicate faith.
Walking on water is a classic biblical image of faith.
Also look out for place names and wordplays like Faith Street, Jamestown, or St Faith’s church.
I’m sure there are many more symbols that represent faith, so if you have any good examples from your own dream life, please leave a comment below!
Real dream examples
Here are various dreams that further illustrate some of the above symbols:
|I dreamed I was trying to catch a ferry, but it was pulling away from the dock. I had to jump across the gap and only just made it.||I was called to join a larger church, but it would be a big stretch of faith for me to do it.||A big boat can represent a large church. This did happen. The gap represented a stretch of faith.|
|I dreamed Annie brought me a shield and a sword in the night.||By God’s grace, the difficult time I was about to go through would develop faith in me as I learned to trust in his word.||Annie means grace. Night can be a difficult time. These items were the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6).|
|I got a tea bag out of a tin and took it to make a drink. But everything was closed and I ended up just leaving the tea bag there for now.||I was trusting God for something, but I would have to continue to wait for the moment. It wasn’t yet time for it to happen.||The tea bag represented faith. Not being able to make the cup of tea indicated it wasn’t yet time to recieve the promise.|
|I dreamed I was holding onto a bar which swung out over a large drop. I clung on until it swung back.||I was about to go through a difficult test of faith where I would have to hold onto God’s promises to get me through.||Holding on represented clinging to God’s promises. The drop indicated there would be nothing solid to go on for a while – it would be all by faith.|
|I was taking some kind of test. There was a differential equation to solve. I suddenly saw that the test went on for ages and I was only a small way though.||This was telling me I was only part way through the test of faith. This was to encourage me to keep believing and not give up.||Differential literally means ‘a difference between two values’. In other words, this test was all about the faith gap!|
|I dreamed I climbed a mountain with some people. It was windy, and our friend James nearly got blown off on the way down.||I was about to make a difficult faith decision, but the hardest test of faith would be after I carried out the decision – and found I still had to trust God for some time longer.||James represented faith. Climbing the mountain was about making the decision; coming down was waiting for God to come through for me afterwards.|
|I dreamed there was a rock face with steep steps going up. It was a stretch, but I managed to go up. Then there was a narrow ledge where I had to cling to the rock and wait for people to pass.||God was about to lead me a way that would stretch my faith – but I would manage it. After that I would have another test of faith involving waiting and holding on.||This was about the same situation as the above dream. The rock represented God and confirmed that he was in what happened.|
We have explored some aspects of faith from a biblical perspective. We have seen that:
- Faith is a gift from God and flows from his own character, i.e. his faithfulness, which we can depend upon. He is faithful to do what he has promised.
- Each of us has been given a measure of faith.
- We receive faith through God’s living word as he speaks to us personally by his Spirit, and this is backed up through demonstrations of power and confirmations.
- Sometimes we must endure a ‘faith gap’, which is when we are trusting God for something he has said to us, but it hasn’t happened yet.
- God develops our faith through trials and testing, and by giving us increasing challenges – each in accordance with our current measure of faith.
Dreams can help our faith in the following ways:
- They contain specific words and personal promises, which impart faith when we understand their God-intended meaning.
- They can act as confirmation of other words God has given us, thus building confidence.
- They enable us to connect with the heavenly realm so we can walk by faith, not by sight.
- They can build faith – if we review our past dreams, learn from them, and see how God has fulfilled them.
- They can tell us where we are in our faith journey, such as alerting us to coming tests and trials – thus helping our perseverance.
We have also explored some symbols God might use to speak to us about faith, with some real dream examples.
If you have found this article helpful or have a story of God speaking to you in dreams about faith, I’d love to hear from you! Do leave a comment below.
Here is a Spotify playlist I made with my favourite ‘faith’ songs:
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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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How dreams can bridge the gap between bible knowledge and knowing God personally.
Overview of dreams in the bible – and their meaning
A summary and brief explanation of each of the night dreams recorded in the bible.
3-step dream interpretation method for Christians
A simple introduction to the dream interpretation process in 3 easy-to-remember steps.
- What is biblical dream interpretation?
- Biblical dream interpretation: Infographics
- Dream symbols: Animals and what they mean
- How dreams can help with faith
- Dream interpretation and the bible: Knowing God’s heart and ways
6 thoughts on “How dreams can help with faith”
When I dream I’m taking a test or exam its often about a subject/topic that I’ve never been taught or studied!
Reading your blog I wonder if this suggests that my faith is being/ going to be tested in an unfamiliar way.
it was such an enlightening moment to read this blog, thank you!!!
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Such an incredibly helpful blog post. Test/Exam dreams are the most common ones I dream about when experiencing a trial and indeed, it encourages me greatly knowing I am in a test and that my situation is not just a random occurrence, and is for a set period.
Thanks also for the playlist, I can spot some of my favourite songs there already!
Thanks for the feedback Ify!
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