Devotionals Devotion 1
This is the inzight text or video.
This is the inzight text or video.
“He [Jesus] was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
Isaiah 53:3 ESV
The death of a loved one has to be one of life’s more traumatic events. Often the full force of the loss doesn’t set in until days or weeks after the funeral.
In my own personal experience at times grief has been like an ocean wave lapping gently against the shoreline of my heart. At other times the wave of grief has been intense, magnified to the point where I have been unable to control my crying. This is common experience.
Often a person who has lost someone close will experience typical responses. If the deceased loved-one was kind and warm-hearted it is usual that they would be deeply missed. On the other hand, if the deceased was unpleasant and difficult to live with, it’s not unusual for the remaining loved one to be left with mixed feelings of guilt and love all at the same time. The guilt comes from accepting a newfound freedom and relief from a strained and stressful relationship, at the same time endeavoring to be respectful and considerate of the role that the deceased person played in their life as a parent, spouse or other.
Dreams of a lost loved one will vary in context depending on the depth and strength of the relationship with them while they were alive. These may be pleasant dreams or uncomfortable dreams.
It has now been eight months since my mother passed away. My father, sister and I have all dreamed of her in different ways. My father called me after his dream, telling me how vivid and real it felt to have mum visit him, hug him and tell him that she loves him. When my sister called, it was apparent that her dream of mum felt just as real as the dream both Dad and I had of her.
Over the years I have come across various people who have dreamt of departed loved ones. It would seem that such dreams may be part of the bereavement, bringing emotional release, comfort and closure that aids in the healing.
Some of these dreams may be directly related to a person missing their loved one, as was my father’s case. My sister had my mother appear to her in several dreams. When my dad heard about it, he was upset and prayed: “Lord, how is it that my wife appears to our daughter and I have been married to her for fifty years and have not had a visit from her, how is that fair?”
God was gracious to dad with an immediate response, and was delighted to have had a dream where he talked with her that night.
Before we go any further, I must make it clear that the Bible is opposed to and discourages communicating with the dead via mediums, fortune tellers, sorcerers, séances and spiritists (Deuteronomy 18:10-11, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14)
So, how do we explain our deceased loved one’s appearing to us in a dream? Firstly, we are not pursuing someone who practices the occult to conjure up a counterfeit spirit of the dead. Secondly, The Bible clearly states in 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV) “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” I believe our lost loved ones are not appearing to us literally in a dream, more likely they are appearing symbolically, and it may be interpreted as a metaphor, no differently to any other symbol that might appear in a dream.
As much as I would like to believe that it was literally my mother appearing to me, she is in heaven with the Lord. What I felt was so vivid and real I could almost believe it was her, but I am of the conviction that her appearance was a symbol.
The International Journal of Dream Research referred to a study involving 76 participants who were grieving for a loved one. Sixty-three of the participants were female and they were all recruited through poster advertisements placed with various bereavement organisations.
Perhaps you may identify with one or more of the eleven themes.
UNRESOLVED GRIEF (Death of a son)
I won’t forget one evening when speaking at a church, I called people forward for prayer. As I approached a middle-aged lady, the Holy Spirit gave me a prophetic picture of a heart monitor connected to her which gave off a beeping sound, like a truck reversing. Then suddenly the monitor flat lined, a long piercing sound with no breaks in between, symbolic of a person dying.
It is important when ministering prophetically, especially in this situation, to understand the symbol that has appeared to you and be careful not to overstretch the interpretation beyond anything more than what you see.
I said to the lady: “The heart monitor commences as a symbol of life prior to flat-lining, there seems to have been an interruption to the rhythm and flow of your life”.
I continued: “Something has happened to cause your soul to flat line, something has died, maybe you have lost something, maybe you have lost your confidence and hope, perhaps you feel like your life has come to a stop. You were going along in life and the heart monitor is beeping but not now. Something has happened that symbolises death for you, perhaps it’s to do with a relationship. However right now, the power of God’s love is on you and the Heavenly Father’s two hands are like the two electrodes of a defibrillator delivering the electric current of restoration and healing into your heart. The flat-line has begun to beep again, life and rhythm is flowing into your heart and soul.”
The more I kept talking to her, the more she began to cry, to the point of not being able to hold back the emotion. I left her in the hands of other leaders who were comforting her while I went on to pray for others.
After the service the pastor of the church came up to me and said, “If all you did tonight was reach out to this woman, it was worth your visit here.”
He then told me how her son had committed suicide eight months prior. As a mother she blamed herself for her son’s loss even though she had nothing to do with his death. It was the first time, after eight months of unresolved grief, that she experienced emotional release. The prophetic word was the catalyst she needed to start the journey of recovery from the sorrow and sadness.
A good friend of mine, Steve Morrison, is an expert in the field of grief management, and has been involved in pastoral ministry for over twenty years. He has a Post Graduate Certificate in Grief, Loss and Trauma Counseling and is currently doing his Doctorate in Ministry, researching issues on faith and grief. He is a gifted lecturer on this subject as well as having officiated for over seven hundred funerals. (www.stevemorrison.co)
Steve will often begin a lecture and say, “It’s ok to react. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to leave. It’s not ok to pretend or run away.”
He goes on to say: “Grieving is normal, natural, inevitable, universal and unique. There is no right way or wrong way to grieve. It is the conflict between the world that was, what it cannot become, and how it may become, that creates the tension that engenders grief.”
To accept the loss
Experience the pain
Adjust to the new event
Reinvent in the new reality
UNRESOLVED GRIEF (Death of a husband)
Ruth was one such person who was struggling with all of these four stages, unable to move on from her grief. Her intriguing account is recorded in Ann Faraday’s book, ‘The Dream Game’.
Ruth, aged fifty-seven, lost her husband, aged sixty-five. Immediately after his death she dreamed of him constantly. She would always spend the following day after one of these dreams crying, because it had all been just a dream. Then one night she dreamed that he told her he would have to go away, and that he had his own things to do. At this, she burst into tears and pleaded with him not to go, saying she couldn’t cope without him.
Ruth’s remarkable release in grief came about when she shared this in a dream workshop. The person facilitating the group led her in an imaginary exercise, asking Ruth to finish the conversation with her husband. The dialogue went something like this:
Ruth: Please Al, don’t go off leaving me again. I need you. There’s so much we still have to do – all those things we never did in life, so much unfinished. I want to tell you I love you and try to make up for all the times I hurt you and disappointed you and…
The workshop leader asked Ruth how her husband might reply to each of her comments. The dialogue continued.
AL: But, you’ve done that, honey. I understand, I really understand.
Ruth: No, you don’t. If only you’d given me some warning – I’d have been nicer to you. But you didn’t tell me (sobbing) and now it’s too late, it’s too late… how was I to know? Now I’ll feel guilty for the rest of my life (angrily) and it’s all your fault. You should have warned me.
AL: But, honey, I didn’t know either. I didn’t want to die.
Ruth: And what’s more, you went off without putting all your affairs in order. Oh, I know you thought you had, but you hadn’t. And I’m a lot poorer than you thought – so much in taxes. And the income tax, the papers, the move… suddenly having to cope with so much. You’ve no idea how hard it’s been.
AL: I’m sorry about that, Ruth. I should have taught you how to cope with things.
Ruth: But I don’t want to have to cope with things. That’s your responsibility. Why do you think I married you? I don’t want to cope, I don’t like it.
AL: But, honey, that’s life – we all have to grow up sometime. I just wish I could have prepared you for it.
Ruth (crying): But I need you Al. I’m lonely.
AL: You’ll make a new life, new friends. I know you will. You can if you want to.
Ruth: But that’s just the point. I don’t want to. I want you. You are my life… so much invested in you. I can’t let go.
The workshop leader interjected here: ‘Try saying, “I won’t let you go”.’
Ruth: I won’t let you go… I won’t let you go (angrily)… I won’t let you go. Why should I? I was always there when you needed me. It’s your turn to be here when I need you (shouting) but, no, you’re in an exciting new place with new experiences ahead of you, in all those many mansions the minister talked about at the funeral. And afterwards he has the gall to spend two hours telling me how happy you’re going to be and not to grieve for you, you with your nice new body. What about me? That’s what I wanted to ask him. What about me, in this old body with arthritis? No new life in store for me – only loneliness, sickness and old age. Who’s going to grieve for me? Not you, not anymore. Well, bully for you, that’s all I can say, bully for you.
At this point in the dialogue, Ruth was pounding her knees with her fists and someone threw her a cushion. She got down on her knees, pounding it furiously, embarking on a tirade of all the hurt and anger she had bottled up inside for twenty years – all of which boiled down to the fact (or feeling) that she had given him her life and now he was walking out on her, leaving her nothing. He had broken a contract that existed only in her heart. As she wept and pounded, she shouted, ‘Give me back my life, Al, give me back my life.’
Sensing this to be a very healthy statement, the workshop leader asked Ruth to return to the chair and reclaim her life from Al.
Ruth (softy): Give me back my life, Al, all those stolen years. Give me back my youth, my laughter, my joy.
AL: They’re yours, honey. They were always yours. I didn’t take them. You gave them to me. You seemed to want to give them.
Ruth (crying): I did, I did. I loved you, but I need to reclaim myself. I have to reclaim myself. I have to reclaim my independence, my strength and my love – because I might need it for someone else (surprised). Well, I might (defiantly). I can live without you. Hey, I can live without you (laughter from group).
The workshop leader asked if she could tell him goodbye now.
Ruth (softly): Good-bye, Al. I’ll miss you (crying) so much we could have done. Well, it can’t be helped. I’ll still think of you sometimes – often – but I’ll let you go. Good-bye, have a good trip (smiling). Take care.
Anna Faraday concludes this account by saying; “Ruth’s predicament is one that repeats itself time and time again in these group activities. So often the bereaved feel guilty about all the things they could have done in life and didn’t and resent the fact that the deceased has put them in this position. Then behind the resentment lies the anger and rage at being deserted left to cope alone in a hostile world. The head knows quite well that these feelings are absurd, that the dead person did not die on purpose, but this kind of logic does not touch the heart and unless we can bring these irrational emotions out and really work through them in some way they chain us to the past and to our memories, locking up energies we need for making our new lives.”
There were about six hundred people at a conference that I was speaking at. I concluded my presentation with Ruth’s story welcoming people to come forward for prayer. To my amazement over one hundred responded pouring out their grief and sorrow, in all my thirty three years of speaking, I’ve never encountered such an atmosphere of healing and restoration taking place in the people being ministered to.
The grief journey can be comfortable, complex and at times uncomfortable. It helps to be able to express our feelings to trusted family members, close friends, a pastor or talk to a professional. The Holy Spirit has been sent as our comforter, counselor, helper, strengthener (John 14:26 AMP). We are encouraged to look to Him in prayer.
Psalm 31:9-10 (ESV):
“Be gracious to me. O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, And my years with sighing…”
Isaiah 53:4 (NASV)
“Surely our grief’s He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried…”
You may wish to refer to the ‘Symbol on Death’ in the ‘Common Dream Theme section on this website.
International Journal of Dream Research, 9(2), 110-114 Deceased: Can Themes Be Reliably Coded?
Black. J. DeCicco, T. Seeley, C. Murkar, A. Black, J & Fox, P, (2016)
Steve Morrison: www.stevemorrison.co
Anna Faraday: ‘The Dream Game’, (Published in Great Britain by Maurice Temple Ltd 1975 AFAR PUBLICATIONS) p. 233-235
Often after the end of a prophetic master class where I have focused on dreams and visions, I get asked the same two linked questions:
In the same way that not all of our daytime thoughts are from God, neither are all of our nighttime thoughts during our dreams. As believers in Christ we possess both a God-conscious and a self-conscious awareness. Our spirit is sensitive to the God-consciousness (Holy Spirit) aspect of our lives. Our soul, consisting of our mind, will and emotions, is aware of our self-consciousness (human spirit). Both aspects of consciousness manifest themselves through the vehicle of our subconscious during our sleep. Dreams produced by the soul are not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
There is no such thing as a foolproof formula that we can use to answer these two questions. I have read many books, articles and blogs. While all of them have had degrees of helpfulness, they still fall short of completely providing the answers we seek.
Nevertheless, I will add my thoughts and insight to the collective pool of wisdom already available on this subject.
Soul dreams are primarily triggered by the events, concerns, and general activity of the day as reflected in Ecclesiastes 5:3.
“For a dream comes through much activity…” NKJV
“For the dream comes through much effort…” AMP
“For a dream comes with much business…” ESV
“A dream comes when there are many cares…” NIV
For the purpose of this article, let us examine the dynamics associated with soul dreams from the various versions of the passage above. I have listed them under three headings:
Many of our dreams are the mind’s way of reflecting on the day’s activities and concerns.
Often what goes through our minds prior to sleeping can shape the images and content of our dreams. For example, a salesman who lands a lucrative deal may dream of a briefcase full of money; the young lady soon to be married may dream of a wedding dress; a web designer may see applications and programming codes; a student preoccupied with his studies may dream of course content; a lady anxious to become pregnant may sees babies. There are many examples of instances where the day’s circumstances and events re-emerge in dreams as imagery.
When waking from a dream it is helpful to look back on the events of the past few days that may have triggered a soul dream. You may be anxious about something—perhaps there has been an element of stress or tension you need to give attention to. You may be looking forward to an event, which your dream may be connected to.
I was asked to speak at one of our nation’s premier conferences on the prophetic subject of “Dreams and Visions”. Leading up to the trip I was excited about the opportunity, which triggered the following dream.
I dreamt that I was flying, soaring to great heights, and the feeling was most exhilarating.”
Both the emotion and the content in the dream were clearly connected to the pending opportunity to speak. Though it was a spiritual ministry trip I was embarking upon, the dream itself was not supernatural, rather natural—a soul dream in origin.
To fall asleep at the beach basking in the sun and then dream that you are in a solarium is nothing more than a soul dream that I list under random/foolish dreams.
The key to understanding soul dreams is to review any events that may have occurred or that you are expecting to occur, which may have possibly contributed to the dream.
A change in job, a relocation, a promotion, a launch of a new business or collapse of a business, a pending marriage, a new opportunity, a missed opportunity or sitting an exam are but a few examples of events and scenarios that may trigger a dream.
Emotions are strongly linked to the condition and health of the soul. This is evident in David’s life during a tumultuous and troublesome time.
Psalm 43:5 (NIV)
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…”
You are more likely to understand a soul dream by the tone of emotion associated with it. Our feelings are revealed in our responses towards people, events and the circumstances surrounding us. What you fail to confront during the day often confronts you during the night. A dream may express volatile and explosive emotions that have been suppressed in social settings during the day. If the person was angry, agitated or annoyed in the dream it is likely the soul is disturbed, angry and agitated about something in waking life, which has triggered the dream.
If the feeling in the dream is one of elation and excitement, it is likely connected to an enjoyable and pleasant experience that has taken place during the daytime.
A dream does not disguise emotion. Your feelings are a true and honest reflection of the actual condition of your soul. Feelings expressed in a dream can help you identify and deal with any unresolved conflict, guilt, grief, anxiety, anger, tension etc.
Several references in the Bible would suggest that emotions may be associated with spiritual dreams. In the case of King Nebuchadnezzar and King Abimelech (Genesis 20: 1-8, Daniel 2:1, 4:5) the Bible does not reveal the Kings’ feelings within the context of the dream. However it is clear upon waking that both kings ‘felt’ unsettled and emotionally disturbed. It is the same with Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37, the Bible doesn’t specifically describe the emotion felt in his dreams, however, we can clearly see that Joseph was elated with its meaning and could not wait to share it with his family.
I will never forget the day Smith Wigglesworth appeared in my dream. His dialogue with me in that dream is recorded in my book ‘In Your Dreams’. The weight of glory and anointing that I felt came over me while he was speaking was so heavy that I could hardly stand.
I have found that supernatural dreams will trigger an emotional response that may touch your spirit much like my Smith Wigglesworth dream touched mine. Soul dreams appeal more to your self-consciousness rather than your God-consciousness. It is not always easy to describe precisely the difference between the two. As you continue on your spiritual journey, you will learn to discern the difference and have a better understanding.
According to Ecclesiastes 5:3, many of our soul dreams are circumstantial in nature derived from the efforts and activity of everyday life.
What we mean by effort is: the time and energy we put into what we love and value, such as our work, family, relationships, church life and many other areas.
An unsettling soul dream can appear when one of these areas is dysfunctional or there has been some form of disappointment or breakdown. Alternatively, you may have invested your time and energy into newly discovered friendships, which may trigger a more pleasant dream.
To dream that someone has stabbed you in the back is indicative of an act of betrayal from a friend or colleague. To dream that someone has covered your exposed back can suggest that a friend or colleague has ‘got your back’ meaning: they are watching over you, taking care of something you may have missed.
Neither of the dreams is supernatural, they are simply the souls’ way of communicating during the night what is taking place during the day.
To understand supernatural dreams is to realise that the Holy Spirit is the source from which we gain our insight. While the soul (mind, will and emotions) may feel the effects of such a dream, the interpretation is received through the spirit and not so much the soul.
When Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:17, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but by my father in Heaven”, Jesus was not referring to information received via the soul, rather revelation via the Spirit.
Supernatural dreams don’t always apply to human logic or reason. When God revealed to Joseph his destiny in a dream it is illogical and impossible for the stars, moon and the sun to bow down to him (Genesis 37:9). It did however awaken Joseph’s spirit and faith in what his future assignment consisted of. One can assume that Joseph would have drawn much encouragement from the dream later, during his time of hardship and adversity.
Dreams with a divine origin require spiritual sensitivity and discernment. It is possible for God to be speaking to someone through this type of dream and for that person not to recognise it. Evidence of this can be found in Job 33:14-16 (NKJV).
“For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.”
The supernatural dreams in my own life that have occurred have been for the following reasons:
I remember a dream where three finely dressed and distinguished visitors knocked on my door, asking if they could walk through my home. It was as though they had come to inspect the condition of the property both inside and out. Prior to leaving, they asked how big the house was. I said, “it’s thirty squares.” They left impressed by what they saw and commended me on the condition and appeal of the home.
It was a very encouraging dream given that I had just turned 30 years of age (30 squares). Their report on the condition of my life (home) was a confidence booster for which I gave God praise.
When it comes to supernatural dreams, the more we grow in our intimacy and relationship with the Holy Spirit, the more likely we are to move from speculation to revelation in our understanding of the dream’s message.
From my personal experience and understanding of Biblical examples, supernatural dreams tend to apply to the following areas:
Soul dreams appeal to our natural man, supernatural dreams appeal to our spirit man. There is a distinct ‘knowing’, which resonates with supernatural dreams. You might say, “How do I know it’s a spiritual dream?” One-way to describe it is the example in Luke 1:41: Mary and Elizabeth were both pregnant at the same time. When Elizabeth came in contact with Mary the Bible says the baby leapt in her womb. When we have a supernatural dream our spirit leaps in response to a dream inspired by the Holy Spirit.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit…” Romans 8:16
Spiritual dreams will carry a sense of significance about them, accompanied by a lingering feeling of importance long after awaking. I have found from personal experience that supernatural dreams occur just prior to waking in the morning. I assume this is because we are more likely to remember them.
God often uses supernatural dreams to speak to people about their assignment and destiny in life as in the case of:
Should you venture off course by making a mistake, God remains faithfully committed to your completing your assignment. So much so that He may resort to using a spiritual dream to intervene in order to correct your path, as was the case with Abraham when he lied about his wife in Genesis 20:1-17.
God can use a supernatural dream that may create a temporary detour in your destiny, as in the case of Joseph being instructed to take Mary and the young child (Jesus) and flee to Egypt. The Lord may even give you a glimpse of your destiny only to delay it until a time when you have been fully shaped and prepared for the responsibility that is associated with your call.
Supernatural dreams will ignite and inspire faith. Men like Joseph, Jacob and Daniel would have drawn confidence and inspiration from God speaking to them in dreams.
Though dreams are not an end to themselves, God can use them to build a persons’ faith. In my early days of being a Christian I remember regularly dreaming that I was preaching, even though I was not in the ministry yet. When I woke up I marvelled at how my words flowed freely in my dream and spontaneous thought came together. These dreams did wonders for my faith.
When younger, former American President, Ronald Reagan, used to often dream of a white house. Sometimes dreams contain previews and glimpses of what you may be called to do in life. They can trigger faith, which plants a seed of belief in you.
How amazing is God? He believed in Gideon even when Gideon had no confidence in himself.
God called Gideon using a spectacular angelic visitation (Judges 6:11-12). Needing further convincing, Gideon asked God for a sign and put out a fleece. If the fleece was wet with dew but the ground dry, he would take it as a sign. Surprisingly, it was. Still sceptical, thinking it was a coincidence, Gideon asked for a second sign. Perhaps the dew was a fluke so he creatively asked God for the reverse to happen the next night. You could excuse God for losing patience with Gideon and starting to look for someone else to complete the mission. However, the next morning the ground was wet and the fleece was dry.
Despite an angelic visitation and two signs, Gideon’s timidity and lack of courage continued. God is so committed to Gideon, recognising he was still afraid, He instructed him with the following:
“If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” (Judges 7:10-11 NIV)
Gideon did exactly that. He headed off on a covert mission arriving in time to hear a man tell his friend of a dream he’d had:
“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.” (Judges 7:13-14)
Gideon was greatly encouraged by the dream. With a surge of newfound confidence he returned and summoned his small army of men and went on to defeat the Midianites.
It is amazing how it took a dream from an enemy soldier to inspire enough courage in Gideon to complete his assignment. I suppose if God reduced your military from 22,000 to 300 men and you were greatly outnumbered you would want all the encouragement you could get.
I have personally benefited from supernatural dreams and visions, which have encouraged me in various ways. They have been confirming, calming and confidence-building dreams relating to work, family, our children, insight into resolving conflict, strategies etc.
God encouraged the Apostle Paul to keep going and keep preaching in Corinth.
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.” (Acts 18:9)
After His resurrection and just prior to His ascension, Jesus encourages His disciples and leaves them with the great commission even though some doubted (Matthew 28:17).
I don’t know about you, but I’m not so sure I would leave such an important task as Christ did to people who ‘doubted’.
The Lord is so committed to the completion of our destiny and His word in our life that He is willing to work with our inadequacies and encourage us to look beyond our insecurities, weaknesses, doubts and fears. Amazing!
In conclusion to this article, I trust a little of what I have written has been helpful.
As I mentioned in the beginning, there is no such thing as a foolproof formula that we can use to answer these two questions.
When it comes to soulish natural dreams, the more we can grow in our comprehension of the symbolic language, the more likely we are to understand the meaning of our dreams.
When it comes to supernatural dreams, the more we can grow in our intimacy and relationship with the Holy Spirit, the more likely we are to move from speculation to revelation in our understanding of the dream’s message.
God will never give you a spiritual dream or tell you to do something that is in contradiction to His written Word. I remember, during a prophetic master class in Europe, having to correct a young lady’s distorted interpretation to a dream she had. She believed the dream was telling her to leave her husband and marry her youth pastor.
Derek Prince once said, “The only instrument sharp enough and sensitive enough to distinguish between the spiritual and the soulish is the Word of God. This is why correct discernment is possible only for Christians who have become mature through regular feeding on the ‘solid food’ of Scripture. The failure to distinguish between the spiritual and the soulish can have disastrous consequences.”
Reference: Derek Prince – Protection From Deception
One of the most common and misunderstood symbols in dreams is when people appear. The usual response is to try to interpret the dream as literal. One example where this happened was when a lady told me about her dream where her friend’s husband was having an affair. Her first response was that she should tell her friend about the dream. This action caused her friend to become suspicious of her husband.
I explained to her that the vast majority of dreams were subjective—the message should be considered from the internal and personal point of view—rather than objective—a message for someone else, as seen from the external point of view. It was important she understand the dream was more than likely a message for her and not her friend. When I explained what the symbol of an affair represented—betrayal, distrust, abandonment and rejection—she acknowledged that these feelings were what she was going through in her own life.
After our discussion, the lady assured me she would speak with her friend, making sure she understood the dream’s meaning was not related to her husband but to her, the dreamer.
When people appear in your dreams it is uncommon for the dream to be directly and literally connected to them. In most cases it will be in context of your own life and circumstances rather than of the circumstances of the person you have dreamed about.
When you dream of someone else, you are looking into the mirror and seeing another person’s face, but most often, you will realise it is you. People in your dreams can represent a part of your life. The question you need to answer is: What attribute, quality or characteristic of your dream person exists in your own life?
For instance, if you dream of your grandfather and you consider him to be a mentor, is there an aspect of wisdom that you are embracing or neglecting. The meaning would depend on the context of your dream and current personal circumstances.
A young man who’d recently become a Christian had a dream where he was backing his car out of his driveway. He was about to drive off when a person appeared out of nowhere, ran towards his car and was trying to break in. The young man reached over to lock his door and every other door in the car, ensuring this person was unable to break in. The dream is easily understood when you recognise the identity of the person attempting to break in, and what that identity is symbolic for.
The person attempting to break in was someone the dreamer knew in real life—a womanizer and into fast and wild living. Prior to becoming a Christian this young man had lived the same sort of lifestyle, but upon coming to faith had turned away from it. The dream was communicating the message that his previous lifestyle of loose living, if given half a chance, would come back by way of temptation and seek a way back into his life. He needed to be guarded and ‘lock the door’ on those temptations.
Dreaming of a stranger may represent an aspect of yourself that you are unfamiliar with or haven’t yet acknowledged. A stranger may also represent a part of yourself that is acting strangely or something within you that is strange and out of the ordinary.
One of the examples I refer to in my book, ‘In Your Dreams’, is of a lady who dreamed her husband was in bed with another woman. She started to choke this lady (a stranger) and was very upset, rejecting her husband as a consequence.
The woman she was choking in her dream was the playmate aspect of her life, that part of her she was struggling to acknowledge. She had been rejecting her husband’s advances in real life.
To interpret a dream where family members appear, or those who are close to you, it is helpful to understand the context of the dream and how it makes you feel.
In summary the questions you could ask yourself when people appear in your dreams are:
It is intriguing to study how numbers can represent a whole new set of symbols in our dreams. From personal experience as well as Biblical examples numbers can appear in a variety of ways.
The first example is numbers attached to objects, as in the case of Joseph’s dream interpretations in Genesis 40:12-18. When Joseph interpreted the baker’s and the cupbearer’s dreams, the three branches and three baskets represented three days. Later, when Joseph was presented with Pharaoh’s dream, Genesis 41:1-36, the seven healthy cows and seven gaunt ugly cows represented seven years. In these examples, the numbers of objects represented periods of time, days and years.
But numbers can signify other measures, for example, depth (in terms of character), and height (in terms of influence) as was in the case of my wife’s dream of the elevator going to the 168th floor.
I also had an elevator dream where I was constantly pushing the button for the 22nd floor. After prayer and reflection it became clear to me that the number 22 was significant in terms of the situation I was in at the time. Things had been difficult and I was attempting to put 2 and 2 together and getting nowhere. The other significant metaphor that was applicable was that of being in a ‘catch 22’ position.
Numbers repeating themselves in a series or sequence can be an indicator that areas of your life are coming into alignment. As an example, my wife dreamed that she was glancing at the clock and it showed the time as either 3:33 or 5:55.
Numbers may also refer to your age. Some years ago I had a dream where three visitors knocked on my door asking if they could walk through the house. They inspected both the inside and outside of my house and were pleased with how it was presented. It was clean and tidy, and in good order. Before leaving they asked me how many squares it was. I told them it was thirty squares. When reflecting on this dream, I associated the thirty squares to my age. I had just turned 30 and believed the three visitors were of divine origin and had come to inspect and commend me on the way I was living my life.
Numbers can represent personal development, growth and fruitfulness. Once, when my daughter was seven, I asked her to close her eyes as I prayed for her. I encouraged her to wait and see if the Holy Spirit would give her a vision or picture of her life. When I finished I asked her whether she had seen anything. She told me she had seen a small tree with two apples on it.
Encouraged by this exercise, and interpreting what she had seen, I explained to her that she was that small tree and the two apples were a sign of her fruitfulness and effectiveness in life. I opened up the passage of Scripture in John 15:1-5 and pointed out the four levels of fruitfulness: No Fruit, Some Fruit, More Fruit and Much Fruit. I said to her it was God’s way of showing her that she had begun making a difference to other people’s lives.
We have observed that numbers can represent quantity, quality, value, dates, times and possibly more. There is no prescribed formula to understanding what a number may signify in a dream. The Holy Spirit is the one who brings revelation to the hidden mysteries in dreams. Always consult Him when you reflect on dreams and are seeking interpretation.
Avoid the mistake of thinking that a number will hold the same meaning for everyone. As with other symbols personal, social and cultural contexts will influence what a number might mean to an individual, and this of course, differs from person to person.
There are many resources and websites identifying what different numbers might represent from a Biblical perspective. As helpful as this might be, it is important not to restrict your thinking and insisting that it applies to every person’s dream.
The Biblical number 3 stands for ‘completeness’. However there are other possibilities of what 3 might mean in your life. You might be the third child in the family, your house is number 3, you might be working on the 3rd floor, your football jumper is number 3.
A good friend with a prophetic edge to her ministry once contacted me about three creatures, which appeared in her dream, a hippopotamus, an elephant, and a Bengal tiger.
Bengal Tiger: Is known for its speed (Fast worker in short bursts). The Tiger has very keen senses (Discerning and Prophetic). The Bengal tiger purrs when it is happy or in pain. (The ability to remain content in both good and challenging times)
Hippopotamus: In Greek, hippopotamus means “river horse.” They are fearlessly protective of their turf and young; they are known to be assertive and aggressive though mostly a relaxed creature. (A pastoral and protective personality with a restful spirit)
Elephant: In combination with its strength, the qualities of the elephant are patience, perseverance and continuity.
In Summary these three creatures were an accurate prophetic description of her attributes and calling. In this situation, there were three creatures – each creature a symbol of attributes that described this person. The Biblical meaning of the number three – completeness – adds a seal to the dream.
Whenever numbers appear in a dream it is important to ask the Holy Spirit for insight as to how the symbol may apply to your own personality and unique set of circumstances.
A common mistake people make when interpreting their dreams is to understand it as literal. Most of our dreams are symbolic in nature and symbols are the universal language to dreams. The western world by enlarge is accustomed to the language of logic and reason rather than metaphor and imagery. Many cultures and nations, both today and down through history, use symbols to illustrate what the spoken word often fails to convey.
Symbols and metaphors are frequently interconnected, that said, symbols are more widely used than metaphors. A symbol, unlike a metaphor, can often mean more than one thing.
For instance, in my seminars I often ask what the symbol of a lion means in the Bible. The most common answer is that a lion symbolises Jesus. The Scripture that people are usually thinking of is recorded in Revelations 5:5. ‘Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.’
However, the symbol of a lion contains other meanings. The Bible uses a lion to describe Satan in 1 Peter 5:8. ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’
A lion is used as the symbol to describe believers in Proverbs 28:1. ‘The righteous are as bold as a lion.’
If you happened to belong to the Brisbane Football Club as a player or support staff it may symbolise your work life given that the team is called the Brisbane Lions.
It is said a picture paints a thousand words. When Jesus chose to define himself he did not use the language of logic and reason, he used the illustrative and universal language of pictures and imagery.
I am the living water – John 4:14
I am the bread of life – John 6:35
I am the door – John 10:9
I am the good shepherd – John 10:11
It’s helpful to study the 46 parables of Jesus, which are full of symbolism and metaphor. You will notice the various symbols and their application to everyday life.
It is important to understand no one symbol means the same for everyone; it’s not a one-size fits all approach. An example of this is the ancient symbol of a swastika. To Hindus and Buddhists and other Asian countries it is a sacred symbol. For the rest of the world, it is a symbol that signifies the death and destruction associated with the Nazi Party.
As helpful as dream dictionaries are they can be equally useless. One of the great myths about dream interpretation is that there’s a set of rules people need to follow. Even though I teach on the 5 Keys to Interpreting Dreams the underlying qualifier is that the individual is unique and it is the individual’s understanding, social and cultural context that contribute to the interpretation of their dream.
One of the main focuses in the courses and seminars I run is to create awareness of symbolic language—to help people understand that the Holy Spirit may be speaking to them in dreams and visions though they might be unaware of it.
You can grow in this area by developing your personal vocabulary of symbols. This is done by considering symbols you may have dreamed of, and asking yourself what they mean to you in your own personal social and cultural context, or what they mean to you in light of your Biblical understanding. The broader your understanding of symbols, the more ability you will have to accurately interpret God given dreams. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate teacher and instructor (John 16:13), and it is assumed that you will always include Him in your quest and search for insight.
In my experience, a repetitive dream is likely to contain an important message—something God may be trying to get through to you. The recurring dream may be an indication that the same situation is still present and unresolved. In most cases such a dream will have an inconclusive ending.
Recurring dreams generally point to a matter that is unaddressed and unresolved—an area of frustration or something unfinished that needs attention. Once the message is understood and the appropriate action is taken, such dreams generally cease.
A recurring dream can alert you to feelings of inadequacy or insecurity in the time leading up to an event. I often dream that I’m on my way to the airport trying to find my passport. In this case, it reveals my anxiety that I may not be organised in time for the trip. Such a dream may also occur when I feel unprepared to deliver a college lecture. It can also take place when I’m due to fly out for a speaking engagement. In each case I am wondering if I’m adequately prepared.
In these cases, the recurrence of a particular dream is more a reflection of my psychological or emotional state leading up to an event than a specific message from God.
It is interesting to note the recurring dream had by Pharaoh as recorded in Genesis. In this instance, the dreams differed, but the theme and message recurred. His first dream included seven heads of grain, his second dream that same night contained seven cows. When God gave Joseph the interpretation, both dreams were symbolic of seven years. The full account can be found in Genesis chapter 41.
When I was a child my parents would often shout my name twice in order to get my attention. It would seem God is no different when wanting to gain someone’s attention, as seen in the references below.
‘But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.”’
‘So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”’
I Samuel 3:10
‘Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant hears.”’
‘And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.’
‘Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”’
In order to capture the person’s attention God called their names out twice. In each case the encounter signalled a significant change of direction and calling or was reassurance in the individual’s life.
Just as in the examples above, God may also use a recurring dream as a source of direction, calling and wisdom for our life.
In my article on nightmares I refer to a mother who spoke to me regarding her son who had been having a recurring dream.
The 11-year-old boy regularly dreams he is standing alone while a lion steadily circles him. He feels very uncomfortable in the dream.
After asking a few questions I discovered the lady had recently divorced her husband, a man who had violent tendencies. It was apparent the lion represented the boy’s father as the dream seemed to happen when he was staying at his father’s place. The uncomfortable feeling was likely expressed anxiety about his father’s volatile nature.
This was an example of a dream with a recurring message of anxiety and insecurity that existed in the boy’s life when staying at his father’s place. I’m confident once the mother speaks with her ex-husband and brings the matter to his attention with the appropriate action, the boy’s dream will cease. In cases such as these counseling may also prove to be helpful and beneficial to the boy and the parents.
It is helpful to identity the pattern in your life that is causing the recurring dream. Some of the more commonly recurring dreams are listed in the Ten Common Dreams theme tab on this website such as being chased (running), losing teeth or finding yourself naked in a public place.
Dreams that leave us disturbed when we wake are not uncommon and we see examples of them in the Bible as well. The prophet Daniel, whose story is told in the Old Testament, is one example. Another is that of Pilate’s wife, her story is found in the New Testament.
Daniel 7:15 (NKJV)
“I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.”
Matthew 27:19 (NKJV)
“…for I have suffered many things today in a dream… ”
There are many reasons why a dream may be disturbing and troubling. Perhaps it is self-evident that dreams could result from a deep-seated concern or conflict—situations that bring emotional pain—for example, a person who suffers during a traumatic event such as a relationship breakup or divorce.
In February 2007 I encountered a lady during one of my seminars who shared the following disturbing dream.
I dreamt that I watched two men digging my grave. I then stood in front of it to have a look and saw a photo of me on my grave. It didn’t look like me but I knew it was me.
After seeking the Lord and talking more with the woman, I believe the Lord revealed that the two men digging the grave were symbols of her two marriages. The first one hadn’t worked out and the second marriage was on the brink of collapse. The photo she saw in the dream represented the person she has become during this ordeal, instead of the person she used to be.
During a dream I saw myself walking through sewage deposits, covered in filth and searching for somewhere to wash myself. I was trying to get away from the filthy foul-smelling place. Finally I located a tap and began to wash the dirt and grime off.
To dream of sewage can represent issues or situations that a person finds objectionable. The dreamer in this case was involved in a toxic and abusive marriage. Washing or removing the sewage was indicative of the desire to be removed from the stain and effect of a destructive and dysfunctional relationship. Just as sewage can spoil an environment, the toxicity of abuse can spoil the human spirit when exposed to negativity and unwanted verbal excrement. Sewage is also a symbol of waste. This dreamer felt the marriage was such a ‘waste’—something that could have been valuable and should have been cherished had wasted away.
A father’s hostile verbal exchange with his son triggered the following dream.
In the dream I was holding a gun, which I used at point blank range blowing my mother’s face off. I woke up deeply distressed.
His mother is a symbol of gentleness and nurture. The father’s verbal aggression and altercation with his son, was powerfully portrayed by killing off these qualities at point blank range in shooting his mother.
In my book, ‘In Your Dreams’, I refer to several examples related to the symbol of sexuality. One such case involved a lady who shared a dream with me that caused her some concern.
She dreamt that her husband was making love with another woman. She started to choke the lady and was very upset with her. She also rejected her husband.
She was distressed by the dream when she woke up. She sat down with her husband to talk over the troubling dream and was satisfied he wasn’t cheating.
After talking further with her about it and seeking wisdom from the Lord, we began to understand that when the woman was choking the other woman in her dream, it was symbolic of the playmate aspect of her life, which she had been rejecting. When her husband had made advances to her she had shut them down. Without realising it, she had been slowly suffocating that side of the relationship with her husband.
The key to understanding why we have disturbing and distressing dreams is to understand the message that is often contained in them. It is helpful to reflect on your most recent events and concerns, which may be directly connected to your dream.
Many times our dreams contain answers to our problems and concerns. The first dream discussed in this article encouraged the woman to rediscover the person she once was. The second dream contained the message to not allow the toxic nature of her experience to contaminate her spirit. The third dream reminded the father of the importance to a gentle, calm and controlled approach. The focus in the fourth dream centred on the wife and her responses to her husband.
Ref: Article on Nightmares.
Is it possible to prevent a calamity when warned of impending danger in a dream? Do such dreams give us a glimpse of the future and forewarn us of a potential threat? Could God be involved in directing the course of your life through such dreams?
I remember the time my sister dreamed our parents had a car accident. She regretted not praying for them when later she found out my father had rolled the car while driving in wet conditions.
In my book, ‘In Your Dreams’, I referred to the record of Abraham Lincoln’s dream where he dreamed his own assassination. This occurred just two weeks before he was shot dead while attending a theatre unguarded. The president was known to have an interest in the meaning of dreams and their predictive power. It seemed likely the dream was warning the President to be more vigilant with additional security around his life.
We can see from Job 33:14-18 God’s involvement in using dreams to forewarn, to guide and protect. It is up to man to perceive it.
Job 33:14-18 (NKJV)
14 For God may speak in one way, or in another,
Yet man does not perceive it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
When deep sleep falls upon men,
While slumbering on their beds,
16 Then He opens the ears of men,
And seals their instruction.
17 In order to turn man from his deed,
And conceal pride from man,
18 He keeps back his soul from the Pit,
And his life from perishing by the sword.
Other accounts in the Bible refer to many instances where God used dreams to warn people of imminent threat, a wrong decision or a sinful and destructive character flaw.
|King Abimelech||Gen 20:3-7|
|Pilate’s Wife||Matthew 27:9|
|Act of ignorance could lead to sin and death/protection for Sarah|
|Warning on Pride|
|Warning to flee to Egypt|
|Warning not to be involved in the sentencing of Jesus|
It seems apparent that warning dreams particularly focused on sin are an expression of God’s mercy and compassion. With such a dream, God allows time for repentance prior to judgment.
The life of King Nebuchadnezzar is an example of this. His pride and oppression of the poor did not go unnoticed by God.
In Daniel chapter 4 the King experienced a frightening dream of a large tree reaching the sky. It was symbolic of his life and powerful empire. A heavenly messenger appeared in the dream with an alarming message for the King, which caused him great distress.
Daniel 4:14 -17 (NLT)
14 The messenger shouted,
“Cut down the tree and lop off its branches!
Shake off its leaves and scatter its fruit!
Chase the wild animals from its shade
and the birds from its branches.
15 But leave the stump and the roots in the ground,
bound with a band of iron and bronze
and surrounded by tender grass.
Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
and let him live with the wild animals among the plants of the field.
16 For seven periods of time,
let him have the mind of a wild animal
instead of the mind of a human.
17 For this has been decreed by the messengers;
it is commanded by the holy ones,
so that everyone may know
that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world.
He gives them to anyone he chooses—
even to the lowliest of people.”
After interpreting the king’s dream, Daniel appealed to him in verse Daniel 4: 27 (NLT):
“King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.”
God in His mercy gave the king twelve months to change his ways before executing his judgment. (Daniel 4:29)
A warning dream does not necessarily have to be about judgment. Such dreams may draw attention to a number of possible issues— health concerns, fractured relationships or any practical matter left unattended.
A lecturer in business studies and information technology approached me after one of my sessions and said, “I wish I had heard you speak on this subject before. I could have prevented smashing my car into a tree.” She went on to explain how she had a recurring dream, where she was driving her car and the accelerator kept jamming to the floor. She’d never thought to have her accelerator checked by a mechanic.
When it comes to warning dreams, Job 33:14 states that a person may not always perceive God’s involvement. Depending on the context of the dream, it might be warning for you be careful about getting involved with a certain relationship or business deal, or it may be addressing your health, a character flaw or sin habit.
Whatever the case, as you pray and look to the Holy Spirit’s leading, I am confident you will find the assurance and confidence to know how to appropriately respond.
Most people spend a third of their life sleeping and experience an average of 4-5 dreams per night. With so much time asleep, there is every opportunity for God to speak to a person through a precognitive dream—a dream that appears to tell the future. There are a number of examples in the Bible where people had dreams, which foretold the future.
|Dreams about his future rule|
|Dreams about climate change|
|Dreams about his inheritance|
|Dreams of future world powers|
|Dreams of future events|
In my book, ‘In Your Dreams’, I outline several personal dreams that turned out to be precognitive or predictive. On one occasion I dreamed of meeting people I’d never met before; another time I dreamed of speaking in a country I’d never been to; and the last dream, a message I would preach at a church I’d never preached in before. Added to my own personal experience, I’ve also come across friends who have been both warned and encouraged by dreams fortelling the future.
From both Biblical example and in my own experience a precognitive dream is prophetic in nature, fortelling an upcoming event before it happens. Such dreams are not uncommon and don’t always have to be negative or frightening in nature. Most of my precognitive dreams have been full of faith and promise. In interpreting the dreams, I have felt Divine direction and wisdom coming through. It is important to remember that when taking encouragement and hope from a prophetic dream, not to be impatient in waiting for the fulfilment. Just as the Biblical Joseph didn’t see his dream fulfilled for over thirteen years, sometimes God speaks to you in a dream about something that might happen the next day, but it is just as likely to take months or years before it comes into being.
Another thing I have noticed from personal experience, worthwhile considering is that most of these prophetic dreams have occurred during times of concentrated prayer and fasting. While this is not always the case, there does seem to be a correlation between times of dedicated devotion and the likelihood of hearing from God through prophetic words.
What you can do?
If you should have a warning dream it doesn’t cost you anything to take precautions. Such a dream can alert you to impending danger or potential crisis either for yourself or someone close to you.
Dr. Larry Dossey, MD is a former physician of internal medicine and former Chief of Staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital. He has lectured in medical schools and hospitals throughout the US. In a recent well-being article he referred to a lady called Amanda, a young mother in Washington State, was awakened one night by a horrible dream. She dreamed that the chandelier in the next room had fallen from the ceiling onto her sleeping infant’s crib and crushed the baby. In the dream she saw a clock in the baby’s room that read 4:35, and that wind and rain were hammering the windows. Extremely upset, she awakened her husband and told him her dream. He said it was silly and to go back to sleep. But the dream was so frightening that Amanda went into the baby’s room and brought the baby back to bed with her. Soon she was awakened by a loud crash in the baby’s room. She rushed in to see that the chandelier had fallen and crushed the crib – the clock in the room read 4:35 and that wind and rain were howling outside. Her dream premonition was camera-like in detail, including the specific event, the precise time, and even a change in the weather.
On one occasion when staying at a friend’s place in Orange NSW I had a dream:
I dreamed I was on a two-wheeled motorbike riding recklessly down the edge of a mountain. I was speeding along having the time of my life, when I took a corner too fast. I then slid off the edge and into a deep ravine. Then I suddenly woke up.
My friend’s house is situated high on a mountain, with a narrow gravel road winding along the edge of the mountain to his home. I had planned a day of fun on his four-wheeler quad bike, with a ride down the mountain. When I woke from the dream the next day, I did ride the quad bike down the mountain, but I made sure I rode carefully and didn’t take any unnecessary risks.
Should a precognitive dream contain a glimpse of a promise or calling I recommend the following:
1. CAUTION: Be careful not to try to make something happen and be wise about who you share this sort of dream with. It is easy to end up complicating matters, as when Joseph told his brothers about his dream and how he thought he would rule over them. (Gen 37: 5-8) The brothers didn’t respond well, and Joseph ended up in a pit.
2. COMMIT: Commit the dream and the prophecy to prayer. God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9) The Bible offers wisdom: “Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him], and your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].” Proverbs 16:3 (AMP)
3. COUNSEL: Seek wise counsel from someone who can provide insight and guidance for any practical steps that may be appropriate.
As an example, I remember having woken from a dream where I was speaking in the nation of Denmark. I’d never been to the country before. I rang the national leader of our movement in Melbourne and told him about my dream. He arranged for me to meet with the national leader from Denmark who just happened to be visiting Melbourne in three weeks time. From that meeting there was an invitation to speak at the Danish national training college. This was followed by another invitation to return the following year to speak at their National Youth Conference. None of this would have happened if I had not approached our leader about the dream.