How dreams can help with renewing the mind

How God uses dreams to change our thinking, reveal lies, set us free from strongholds, and reveal the truth.

What is renewing the mind?

What are strongholds of the mind? And how can dreams help?

This article explores renewing the mind from a biblical perspective, how God uses dreams to shift mindsets, plus common dream symbols for this process with real dream examples.

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 .

What is renewing the mind?

From the moment we decide to follow Jesus, we embark on a journey of transformation and renewal. The idea is that we become transformed into Christ’s image – or rather into the image he had in mind when he created each of us.

  • Romans 8:29, NIV For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

One of the biggest transformation challenges is to change the way we think! The apostle Paul calls this process ‘renewing of the mind’:

  • Romans 12:2, NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Everything else flows from this – because our beliefs and mindsets determine our actions. So, if we want to become more Christlike, then we must allow God to change our thinking.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit in each individual believer to guide us and help us be transformed over time. And because renewing the mind is a personal journey, dreams are a tool that God uses in this process.

Picture of lady looking thoughtful, with text: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind

Mind, knowledge and understanding in the bible

But why and how does our thinking need to change?

Our mind is neither a good or bad thing in itself. It is how it is used, and where we are drawing our information/beliefs from, that determines whether it is a positive or negative influence in our life.

The bible tells us that true understanding comes from God. So, if our thinking is in line with God’s then we are in a good place. But if our thinking is out of line with God’s, then it needs to be adjusted in some way to come back into alignment with the truth.

  • Proverbs 2:5, NASB For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
  • John 14:6, NIV Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

If we are focused the world around us and letting that determine our thinking, then our understanding may well be flawed. If, however, we are focused on God and drawing our insight and information from Him, then we are more likely to be getting the true picture.

A mind renewed by the Spirit will be filled with life, peace and truth – a much better position!

  • Romans 8:6, NASB For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace

A biblical view of repentance

The concept of repentance can be misunderstood in Christian circles.

The word often conjures up an image of saying sorry and generally feeling bad about what we have done. It is an English word, linked to the idea of penance, and this is not the original biblical meaning.

The original word in the bible is metanoia, and it means to change your mind about something. It could even be a complete turnaround in thinking.

Repentance (metanoia) means to change your thinking.

In bible times, this term was used by soldiers: A cry of ‘repent’ would mean ‘about turn’. They would stop, turn 180 degrees, and then march off in the opposite direction. This illustrates that complete change of mindset.

When John the Baptist came preaching, “Repent, because the kingdom from heaven is near!” (Matthew 3:2) he wasn’t telling them to feel sorry. He was calling them to prepare their hearts because they were about to experience something that radically changed their understanding and behaviour. Jesus fulfilled that when he came preaching and demonstrating God’s kingdom power.

Jesus told parables that seemed innocent enough until the people realised what the message meant… then their thinking was turned upside down!

God uses dreams in the same way as Jesus used parables: When we realise what God is saying, they can radically shift our thinking and understanding – just like the parables Jesus told.

Repentance (a shift in thinking) inevitably leads to a change in what we do. John the Baptist called this the fruit of repentance. This is how God brings transformation in our life. He renews our understanding, and transformation follows. This is biblical repentance.

Picture of a man pointing to his head, with text: repentance: metanoia: To change your thinking

Strongholds of the mind

When an unhelpful belief or mindset becomes strongly ingrained, it can become a spiritual stronghold.

The dictionary defines a stronghold as a fortified place (Merriam-Webster). So, in a positive, biblical sense, God is our fortress, or stronghold. He is a safe and secure place for us.

  • Psalm 18:2, NIV The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

But there is a negative sense of the word too. A negative stronghold is anything that has a ‘strong hold’ on us, that is not of God and is hard to change. There is usually an evil or demonic spirit involved. We may believe that it is ‘just how we are’ and that we cannot change. That is a lie of the enemy, but it feels true.

The biggest type of stronghold is a stronghold of the mind. This is a strong or persistent belief that we are convinced is true, but it is not. It is a blind spot.

We may religiously defend these beliefs to ourselves and to others. We may have inherited these ways of thinking from our culture and upbringing – and are genuinely unable to see the truth until God intervenes.

Paul describes them as ‘arguments and pretensions that set themselves up against the knowledge of God’:

  • 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NIV The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Bringing down a stronghold is the ultimate challenge in this whole process of renewing the mind.

God frequently uses dreams to reveal these strongholds. The point of revealing them is that he wants to free us from them, ultimately leading us to repentance (changing our thinking) and transforming our lives.  

God gives us dreams about strongholds when he intends to free us from them.

More on this theme…

Picture of tower, with text: Dreams can reveal the existence

How God uses dreams to renew our thinking

Over the past 15 years I have interpreted thousands of my own dreams in the context of my relationship with God. And a vast number of them have been about getting me to shift my thinking in some way, or letting me know that it’s going to happen.

Renewing the mind is one of the major purposes of dreams.

I am convinced that God is the only one who can bring about a shift in thinking and help us overcome our blind spots.

  • 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, NIV However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The following points are some of the ways God uses dreams to help us with this process.

God prepares us for a shift in thinking

I have found that God communicates to us for a certain length of time – and through a number of dreams – when he intends to bring about a shift in our thinking.

  • The bigger the mindset shift, the longer in advance he starts telling us about it!
  • The longer we have believed a lie, the longer God needs to prepare us before we can receive the truth.

Small things (e.g. current to the time of dreaming) might only need one or two dreams to get our attention and change our thinking.

Big mindset shifts can take a lot of messages and a long time before God reveals the truth!

In the table below are a couple of real dream examples to demonstrate this difference.

  • The first dream was a small thing that only needed one dream to get my attention.
  • The second dream was about a big mindset shift that God spoke to me about for years before it happened, and I had many other dreams on a similar theme.
I dreamed my dream mentor told me there were snakes coming out of my dream journal.This was a current issue: This dream alerted me that I had misinterpreted some of my dreams and had the wrong idea. I was able to go back over my recent dreams, pray about them, and adjust my thinking.Snakes often represent lies. Note, it wasn’t my dreams themselves that were lying, but rather my understanding of them.
I dreamed I dug up a man’s head in the garden, then suddenly realised that our whole house was lop-sided! I woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat!This was about a bigger issue: This dream was alerting me to a stronghold that I was going to uncover in due course. This revelation would lead on to me realizing that lots more of my ideas were wrong.Five years later, God took me through a huge thinking shift. The head represented wrong thinking on which everything else (the whole house) was based.

Dreams contain promises of coming revelation

Dreams about renewing the mind are like a personal promise that God has a mystery (new thinking/understanding) that he is going to reveal to us in due time. The truth is like a treasure waiting to be discovered. We can’t see it now, but we will do in the future.

  • 1 Corinthians 2:7, NIV We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

However, it can be very frustrating when we are in the gap of not understanding: When we can see from our dreams that we have a stronghold, or are believing a lie, but we don’t know what it is – it seems to drag on forever! We wonder why God doesn’t just tell us the truth there and then!

The following illustration has helped me grasp some reasons for this process:

When my children were small, I used to find it challenging to prepare a meal. Firstly, it was hard to make the time to actually do the preparation and cooking. But secondly, as soon as I started cooking, they would get hungry and start asking for something to eat – usually biscuits or other junk food.

I would often pre-empt this by giving them raw carrots before they started asking for food. This allowed me time to properly prepare the dinner, stopped them having junk food, and meant they were hungry enough to eat their healthy dinner.

I have found that dreams about a coming shift in thinking are rather like the carrot sticks:

  • Dreams that alert us to a coming revelation of truth are like an invitation to a meal (or feast) that he is lovingly preparing to share with us.
  • God will not share until the meal is ready. He waits for the right timing.
  • Waiting increases our hunger. We need to be desperate enough to be able to receive what God is saying – and in the case of a stronghold we can resist the truth for a long time!
  • We must get to the stage where we are genuinely asking and ready for God to show us the truth. These types of dreams can get us to that place.
Picture of lady looking at her watch, with text: We must be hungry enough to receive the truth God wants to reveal.

Dreams depict the battle for the mind

Coming to the point of believing the truth is often an internal battle!

There is usually part of us that knows the truth, maybe subconsciously or in our spirit. But there is also part of us that is struggling to embrace it and wants to hold on to the old, familiar beliefs.

This can play out in dreams, for example through battle scenarios, invasions, arguing, running from something, or not letting something in our house. These dreams can seem negative – and might be – but they might also be depicting us running from the truth! Context and atmosphere are vital clues for interpreting these dreams.

God uses dreams to give us the heads up that an internal battle is going in. He is showing us where we are in the process, and where we are resisting him or running from the truth.

Responding to dreams about the mind

So how do we respond to these dreams?

Remember that God always gives hope. He does not reveal something (like a lie or stronghold) unless he intends to change the situation.

So, if we have a dream that reveals wrong understanding, it is not to condemn us. Rather, it means that he intends to do something about it – and we are invited to cooperate and take ownership of the process.

In the ‘gap’ of waiting for revelation, we can:

  • Hold onto the hope that God is stating his intention to reveal the truth.
  • Ask God to reveal any lies that our dreams suggest we believe.
  • Cultivate an open heart that is ready to have our thinking challenged.
  • Keep our spiritual eyes and ears open for signs and clues to follow up.

Once we eventually realise the truth, we can:

  • Ask for forgiveness for believing the lie and renounce the lie. (If you are familiar with the courts of heaven, you could deal with it there.)
  • Choose to believe the truth, focus on it, speak it out, and process it.
  • Take appropriate action as a result.

Drawing from the Holy Spirit

If we want to be transformed in our thinking, we must draw from God, who is our true source –rather than from our own understanding or from the world around us. The best thing to do is to spend time with God and draw from his Spirit until he is ready to reveal it.

  • 1 Corinthians 2:14, NIV The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

This might look different for each of us. For me, this means having a daily quiet time, and spending time resting in God’s presence. If we attend to our relationship with God and walk with him, then at the right time, we will get the message! I also love listening to the following worship song by Laura C:

Keeping our peace

We can trust God to send us the right trigger, whether that is suddenly realizing the truth ourselves, or being pointed to something we can read or listen to. When the Holy Spirit reveals things by bringing them to our attention, we can research them and follow up those ideas.

Here is an example:

I had been dreaming about a coming huge thinking shift for months and was getting desperate to know what it was. Then one day, I dreamed that a man (whose ministry I loosely followed) gave me something to eat which meant I was going to understand the truth. That same day, I looked on his website. He had recently published a blogpost – and as soon as I read it, I realised the truth God wanted to show me. I then had to do a lot of reading and processing!

It is helpful to maintain an attitude of peace in the process. We walk day-by-day with God, keep an open heart, and trust him to do the shifting at the right time.

Dream symbols for renewing the mind

There are certain dream symbols that commonly point to our mind and understanding, or to the process of renewing the mind. It is helpful to know these and look out for them in our dreams!

These symbols can relate to various stages of the renewal process:

  • The mind, processing things, and understanding.
  • Exposing lies and strongholds of the mind.
  • Revealing the truth.

Note, these symbols are not always about the mind. The context and atmosphere are important clues, plus whether they are positive or negative in the dream. They could also mean something personal to you.

But if more than one of these symbols appear in a dream, it is quite likely to be about the mind in some way.

Picture of letters saying 'change', with text: God reveals a lie of stronghold because he wants to change the situation

Dream symbols about the mind

There are certain symbols that are commonly about the mind and our understanding/thinking.

Head: Anything relating to our head can be about our mind.

Hats: These go on our head so can be about our mind.

Hair: Hair grows on our head, so is usually about our thinking – even if that hair is on another part of our body.

  • Long hair can be thinking we have had for a long time.
  • Having a hair cut can be about needing to adjust our thinking.
  • Hairdresser can be the Holy Spirit renewing our thinking.

Teeth: These are often about thinking things over or processing ideas. This can indicate that we need to rethink something, or we need wisdom. See Dream symbols: Teeth.

Underwear: Underwear can be understanding (the thinking/beliefs that underlie/determine what we do). See Dream symbols: Clothes.

Upstairs or attic/loft: These rooms are at the top of the house, and can therefore link to our head/mind. We even have an English idiom, ‘Is anything going on upstairs?’ which refers to thinking!

Weddings: Weddings are like covenants, and can be about agreements we make, of which mental agreements are the most common. Getting married could be agreeing with somethng; getting divorced or separated can be breaking a negative/false agreement. An ex-husband/wife or partner can be something we used to believe (or should have moved on from). See Dream symbols: Weddings.

Yellow: The colour yellow is usually about the mind or understanding. For example, getting new yellow clothes or being given a yellow gift could be about getting new understanding, or a new way of thinking. See Dream Symbols: Yellow.

I dreamed I went to have a shower and washed my hair.  But it took ages to dry because my hair had got so long.This dream was saying God would change my thinking (wash hair), but it would take ages to process (dry) because I had believed the old idea for so long.The long hair represented some thinking I had believed for a long time.
I dreamed it was bright and sunny on a grassy field. A yellow plane with a target on was doing dangerous acrobatics – then suddenly crashed and the pilot died.I was starting to bounce some ideas around my head, which would lead to a sudden moment of revelation – and realizing I had believed a false idea.The acrobatics were me having ideas. The plane crashing and pilot dying were the wrong belief ‘dying’. The target meant God intended to reveal the truth to me.
I dreamed one of my teeth was loose. Then a cover came off my teeth, and all my teeth started falling out!I was going to realise something, leading to having to rethink lots of other ideas that were linked to it.God would open my eyes (remove the cover). Teeth falling out can be about not thinking clearly.

Dream symbols representing lies

Lies are not just about things other people say to us. We can be lying to ourselves (albeit subconsciously!) and believing something that is not true. These types of dreams are about exposing the lie.

Crocodiles and alligators: These have sharp teeth and a long tail (which can be a lie). They also kill things by twisting, so can be about twisting the truth. In dreams, these animals usually represent some kind of verbal attack from other people, but they could also be about lies we are telling ourselves.

Snakes: Snakes nearly always represent a lie (false belief) in a dream. The shape and colour can help determine what type of lie it is. See Dream symbols: Snakes.

I dreamed I saw a snake on a tree. It’s tail went almost to the bottom of the tree.This dream told me I was believing something untrue (a lie) that originated early on in my life (almost to the root).This turned out to be a stronghold I had inherited from things I had been taught.
Picture of lady in yellow field with text: romans 8:6 The mind set on the spirit is life and peace

Dream symbols about strongholds

A stronghold is a lie that has a strong hold over us and is well established in our thinking. These can appear in our dreams as castles, big old buildings, and other similar structures.

Castle, keep, or fortress: A castle is a classic image of a spiritual stronghold – which is often a stronghold of the mind.

Tower or skyscraper: A tower could be a good place spiritually, but it could also be negative, like a stronghold of the mind (like a high place in the bible).

White: The colour white, or ice and snow – in a negative context – can reveal the presence of a religious stronghold (i.e. a religious lie we have believed).

I dreamed I went up to the top of a tall tower that I didn’t know was there. In a room at the top I found a head!This dream told me there was a stronghold of the mind that God was going to reveal to me.The tower and head were both classic symbols revealing a stronghold of the mind.
I dreamed I went into a castle where the presence of God would come in a room. I didn’t want to go in the room in case my children died. But light hit my hair band through a crack in the door and transformed it.God wanted to reveal to me a stronghold of the mind, but I was resistant to believing the truth. However, by God’s grace he would enable me to see it – and my thinking would be transformed.The castle was the stronghold. The children were the wrong ideas I was trying to protect! The hair band told me this was about renewing my mind.

Dream symbols about repentance

As we discussed earlier, repentance means a change (or complete turnaround) in our thinking.

Bathroom dreams: Bathrooms are often about repentance or cleansing our minds:

  • Toilets: Toilets are generally about repentance, which is getting rid of wrong thinking.
  • Periods and menstruation: This is similar to going to the toilet and could be indicating we need to get rid of some old thinking, in order to prepare for the new things God wants to show us.
  • Baths: Baths are usually about cleansing – which can involve our thinking, depending on the context.
  • Showers: Showers are also often about renewing the mind, particularly if they involve washing hair.

Revising might be a wordplay about revising (rethinking) our ideas.

I dreamed I went to the toilet, and then couldn’t stop going. I was there for ages!I was going to realise I had believed a lie, but then it would take me ages to work through all the implicationsThe toilet was about repentance (changing thinking) which would take a long time!
I dreamed I went to have a bath, but the water was dirty. I had to go in a different room where I there was a show going on with a better view.This was telling me that my mind needed renewing, but the people around me also believed the lie. So I would have to hear the truth directly from God.A bath can be a community of believers (like a pool). The show was me getting to a place where God could show me the truth.

Dreams symbols about realising the truth

This is the more positive part of the process! God lets us know that he is going to reveal the truth!

Black: In a positive context, the colour black can be about mystery. This is something that we can’t see/understand yet, but we will do in due time when God reveals it.

Light: Anything linked to a light being turned on, getting clarity, a person with a name meaning light, etc., can be about seeing the truth.

Sky: Anything coming from the sky can represent revelation of the truth, e.g., a lightning bolt, thunder, a bomb, a helicopter or plane coming down, etc. In all these situations, the dream context is important as they could have other meanings.

  • Blue: Blue is the colour of the sky and is usually something heavenly, which could be revelation of the truth (as opposed to brown, which is usually natural/not of heaven).
  • Rain: Rain comes from the sky so could be God’s word (the truth) being revealed from heaven to us.
  • Snow and hail: these also come from the sky. Snow could be revelation slowly released over time until we realise the truth. Hail would be something more hard hitting, of sudden impact.

In addition:

  • Anything being uncovered, revealed, or dug up can be about revelation.
  • Any shift in a dream (like shifting position or going over a waterfall) might represent a shift in thinking.
Picture of bluebell woods with text: Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realms; Colossionas 3:1 The Passion Translation


We have seen that renewing the mind is a normal part of the Christian journey, and is a big factor in bringing about the positive transformation we desire to see in our lives.

This process involves repentance (changing our thinking) and taking down strongholds of the mind (unhelpful mindsets/beliefs that are strongly established in our thinking).

We have seen how:

  • God gives us dreams to notify us that he wants to shift our thinking. This is so we can prepare our hearts and seek the Holy Spirit.
  • The bigger the revelation of truth and shift in thinking, the longer he normally prepares us through dreams before the understanding is released.
  • This process is an internal battle between the old and new mindsets – and that scenario often plays out in our dreams.
  • We can approach this from a place of peace, knowing that God will reveal the truth if we are seeking him.

And finally, we have seen that there are lots of dream symbols which can relate to our mind and understanding. These can be about exposing lies, revealing the truth, or about the renewal process.

You may now be realizing that God has been speaking to you about your mind and wants to shift your thinking in some way. If so, it’s a good idea to find a mature person you trust to talk/pray with – plus talk to God about it. I have been through many mindset-shifts myself since I’ve been listening to God through dreams, and would be happy to help point you in the right direction if I can!

If this article has helped in some way, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below!

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Dream interpretations

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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Content Disclaimer

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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7 thoughts on “How dreams can help with renewing the mind

      1. Thank you and understood 

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  1. Hi! Just wanted to say thank you for this post but also this website! In February God told me that he would begin speaking to me through dreams and to say he has done just that would be an understatement! It can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the info and symbolism but I found your website and it has been such a blessing to my journey in just 2 months. Just this morning he whispered that my hairdresser in my dream was a representation of the Holy spirit and I didn’t even know hair could symbolise thinking so this post really helped. So this is just a thank you! 😊


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