Encountering God In Dreams

We spend about one third of our life sleeping. This time is mostly without significance – unless we give it one. In this short article I want to show what the Word of God says about dreams and give a short introduction on how to view our dreams as places of encounters with God and opportunities for Him to speak and reveal His love to us. This truth can radically impact your night-life.

God Speaks Through Dreams - In The Bible And Today

  • Joseph – He is probably the most famous “dreamer” (Gen 37:19) of the Bible. He had two significant dreams about his personal calling (Gen 37:6-11) and also interpreted other peoples' dreams. (Gen 40:6-8, also Gen 41)
  • Jacob – The famous “Ladder to Heaven” (Gen 28:12-16)
  • King Solomon – God appeared in a dream: “Ask what you want Me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)
  • Daniel – He had several prophetic dreams (Dan 1:17, 7:1) and interpreted dreams of others (Dan 2).
  • Joseph, the husband of Mary – Angels appeared in a dream and spoke to Him, giving directions (Mt 1:20-21).
  • God even spoke to non-believers through dreams: Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2); Pharaoh, cupbearer and baker during Joseph's time (Gen 41); the magi after visiting Jesus (Mt 1:12).
  • The book of Job mentions a common problem: we often do not pay attention to our dreams.

    14 Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds. 16 Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, 17 that He may turn man aside from his conduct, and keep man from pride. 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, and his life from passing over into Sheol. (Job 33:14-18)
  • The book of Joel gets even clearer about it. The fact that God addresses all generations and says “on all flesh” shows that it is for us all. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter uses those verses to describe in what time we live now, even today. It was prophesied to us!

    28 It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind. And your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see vision. 29 Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29)

God's Purpose For Dreams: Guidance And Fellowship

  • God promised that He would speak to us through dreams. When He does that today, He is proving His faithfulness to His promises to us. Dreams are one way of the variety of ways God uses to speak to us. But when He uses dreams to speak even to non-Believer, then how much more to speak to us.
  • God has a desire to speak to us. He made us in His image so that He would have somebody to fellowship with Him. Hearing God's voice and experiencing that He cares about us helps us get in touch with Him. Parable of the Good Shepherd:

    2 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep (talking of Jesus). 3 To him the doorkeeper open, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (John 10:2-3)
  • God gives us dreams to help us solve our problems, to reveal to us things we didn't know, to show His gentle care to us, to help us on our journey towards Him and to show us His passionate love! He often sends dreams when we are struggling with a problem.
  • Dreams have a lot to do with God giving us guidance for our life. God's guidance is an expression of His interest and love for us.

    15 You (God) will call, and I will answer You. You will long for the work of Your hands. (Job 14:15)
  • Eventually it is about Him having the desire that we would encounter Him.

    26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind … 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope (touch, feel) for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)
  • Another aspect that shows God's desire to fellowship with us is the whole thing of interpretation of dreams. God often speaks in very symbolic dreams that we cannot understand by ourselves. We need Him to understand the dream. “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Gen 40:8) God speaks in symbols so that we will seek Him. His main desire is that we would spend time with Him.

3 Types Of Dreams - How To Know That A Dream Is From God?

  • Even though God speaks to us in dreams, not all dreams are from Him.
  • Basically, there are three different types of dreams that we have to discern:
    1. Godly dreams – As we have seen, God spoke to human being in the past and promised to do it especially in the time starting with the Pentecost – the time we live in today.
    2. Emotional dreams – Emotional dreams usually reflect the things that concerned us the day before and is often mere processing of those memories, emotions and impressions. Depending on what we spend our time, those dreams can be either good or bad. After watching scary movies it is not uncommon to have nightmares that reflect the scenes we were watching. Emotional dreams can be easily identified because we can just see a connection to how we just spent our time. (Ecc 5:3)
    3. Dreams from the enemy / “nightmares” - Not always are nightmares caused by bad TV watching behaviors, but sometimes they are just an attack from the enemy. Actually, most of the nightmares fall in this category. Dreams from the enemy are often very vivid but cause fear, anxiety or even condemnation. Those dreams should be of no concern for us and should be discarded immediately. We don't want to listen to the voice of the enemy. We just pray that God's blood will cleanse and protect our mind and dreams.
  • How can we know that the dream is from God and not from the enemy or caused by our emotions?
    1. The Effect – Does it bring you closer to God or not? God's voice will always draw us closer to Him through hope, love and encouragement which is the primary effect of Godly dreams. Dreams that cause fear, anxiety or condemnation are not from God. His Word clearly tells us that there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18) and no condemnation for us (Rom 8:1).
    2. The Message – Does it align with the Bible? If the message contradicts the Word of God you can know that the dream is not from God.
    3. Sense of Importance – They often feel different to normal dreams. You feel a different kind of urgency or importance that you don't feel for emotional dreams. There seems to be something more to them. Sometimes it is this kind of dream that will keep you thinking of it throughout the entire day.
    4. Waking up right after the dream, even in the middle of the night, can be another indicator that the dream is from God.
    5. The level you remember the dream and its details and how vivid they are still to you can sometimes be an indicator for a Godly dream.

How To Encounter God More Through Dreams?

There are a few steps that position us to encounter God more through dreams:
  1. Petition - Pray to God that He would give you divine dreams and that He would meet you in the night. You can do that before you go to bed every night for example. I do that regularly. Do not give up just because you don't dream right the next night. It's much more a way to position our heart before God and can often take some time till it really sets in. He has a desire to speak to us, but He needs us to ask Him.

    3 Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. (Jer 33:3)
  2. Expectation - Expect God to send you dreams and be ready to receive them. This attitude of expectation and confidence is another way to describe what we usually call “faith”.

    6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebr 11:6)
  3. Impartation – Getting input on the topic of dreams by reading books on God speaking through dreams, attending seminars and so on activates our spiritual senses and awareness and often will come along with a great increase of dreams.
  4. Preparation - One way to position us is by putting a notebook and a pen next to our bed. It is so crucial to write down dreams that we get right when we wake up, because they quickly fade and we forget them very quickly. Especially in case we wake up right in the middle of the night. If we don't write it down instantly but instead go back to bed, we will most likely not be able to remember it the next morning.
  5. Interpretation - Start seeking God for interpretation of the dreams you get. This is a very powerful way to position you to receive more from God.
  6. Don't despise the day of small beginnings! (Zech 4:10) Be faithful with small and God will give you more.