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CHRISTIAN WALK

Guidelines for Successfully Interpreting Spiritual Dreams

By Bryan Carraway
Guest Writer

CBN.com Those who have had a dream which they believe to be from God, called "spiritual dreams," know how frustrating they can sometimes be. These dreams are often full of intimidating and bizarre symbolism which leave us scratching our heads asking, "Lord, what in the world are you trying to tell me through this?!"

As one who has long been fascinated by this subject and who has been interpreting dreams for many years I want to share with you some guidelines which will greatly help you in interpreting your dreams and the dreams of others.

The most common mistake is to interpret our spiritual dreams literally. Often a woman will dream of being raped. This most often represents not a criminal act which is soon to occur, but rather an emotional or spiritual robbing of something near and dear to the person. Dreams are very cryptic and symbolic in nature and we must be careful to know when to take an element literally and when to see it as representative of something else.

Be aware that individuals can sometimes represent types of people rather than themselves. For example, you repeatedly dream of the same person from your high school days they could be representing a certain type or class of person (the wild party girl, the neglected social outcast, etc.). God will often use a person you have strong opinions of (negative or positive) to represent types of sin or types of generations or age groups He's directing you to minister to. The valedictorian of my senior class represents my generation, and she appears in my dreams every few years when God is communicating messages to me on this subject. When I dream of Amy Clark I know I immediately have part of the dream de-coded.

Always interpret the dream within the overall context of the emotion you felt upon waking. For instance, one person may dream of standing in the midst of rushing water which is rising higher and higher. Two people can have that same dream and one awakens terrified of drowning while another has total peace. The water in one dream may represent impending doom and judgment while in the other it represents the power of the Holy Spirit. One has to analyze their emotional reaction to the dream. When you are first awakened are you excited, empowered, scared, or confused? If you are just confused with no overtly positive or negative impression then you'll realize that this third guideline doesn't help you and you'll be glad this article was free! No seriously, this just means you'll have to struggle a little harder to arrive at the dream's meaning, but you can still decode it with a little time and prayer.

There are no universal standard meanings for the symbols in your dreams. Besides a few common symbols that are universal, we each have our own unique "dream vocabulary" that we get the joy of discovering over time. We all seem to have particularly unique symbols for the demonic realm. In my mother in law's dreams they're alligators, in others' dreams they're snakes, in mine they're bearded, tattooed men on motorcycles! It's a long story - don't ask. For someone who grew up with dogs that were treated like family members, dogs in their dreams could represent safety and divine oversight. For a person who was mauled as a child and is terrified of dogs today, the presence of a dog in their dream could be indicative of danger or an attack from the enemy. The same holds true for common objects, colors, animals, or geographic locations. Every person's dream vocabulary is unique and has to be gradually discerned.

I hope these four guidelines will help you in better interpreting your dreams. But these guidelines will be useless if you don't record your dreams. Be sure to keep a notebook next to the bed or a recording device for later dictation and record the dream immediately upon awakening. Rest assured that when you ask God for wisdom in interpreting your dreams, He will provide it. Also be encouraged that He has gifted some in the Body of Christ with a specific gift of dream interpretation and they can be very helpful for especially difficult dreams.

Related articles:

Interpreting Common Symbols in Spiritual Dreams

A Theological Look at Spiritual Dreams

More Discipleship Resources on the Spiritual Life Channel

CBN Teaching Sheets


Bryan Carraway holds a master's degree in Practical Theology from Regent University. Over the last ten years he has served churches in Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia. He ministers in churches today via his teaching/preaching ministry with his message of sanctification and the fuller life in Christ.

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