Articles The Difference Between Soul Dreams & Supernatural Dreams
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:
- How do you know whether the dream is trying to tell you something or whether it is just a reflection of your current circumstances and feelings?
- How do you know if a dream is prophetic and supernatural in nature, or if it is simply an extension of wishful thinking?
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:
- Your Spirit
- Your Assignment
- Your Faith
- Your Encouragement
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:
- Jacob – To possess the land – (Genesis 28:10-17)
- Joseph – To rule – (Genesis 37:5-10)
- Paul – To go to Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10)
- Joseph – To flee Egypt to (Matthew 2:13)
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