Do Dreams Ever Have Meanings?

While taking a nap over this last weekend, I had a dream. It was a bizarre dream. Included in the cast of characters was Laura (my best friend from high school), Voddie Baucham, the ex-wife of my junior high choir director (huh?), a group of terrorists with their black hoodies on, and me in an outfit that-- apparently-- had the magical quality of changing into a swimsuit and towel right about the time you enter auditoriums that have glass staircases. We were on a train ride. All I know is, I absolutely was NOT the one who took snack items from the open bags of the terrorists, OK?

So some dreams are weird, right? Most of the time I don't remember them, but this one I did. And I'm thinking as I wake up, "wow, what a weird dream." But maybe, if I was Pharoah of Egypt (sidenote: by the way, this hypothetical situation is not a hidden confession about how I feel about Sarah Palin as VP, OK?)... but, perhaps if I were super-powerful, I might ask of my advisors, "what in the world was THAT dream about?"

And surely they'd say, "Oh powerful one, we are all convinced that the reason for that whacked out dream is related to the fact that you've gone through jet lag twice in the last three weeks with your two youngest children, and you are completely and utterly dog-tired." And they'd be right.

But it did make me wonder, what was it about the dreams we hear about in the Bible that made them interpret-worthy? Did they happen over and over? (Some of them did.... but then again, many of us have the same or similar dreams multiple times, don't we? Does that mean we should automatically be seeking their meaning?) Was there a surreal quality about them that set them apart? Had they had all their dreams interpreted up to that point, or were these unique situations?

Do you ever find meanings in your dreams? Do you think this is or is not a valid thing to do? Does God still sometimes speak through dreams? I don't have any answers on this one... it's just something I'm curious about after having had a dream train ride with a gun held to my head because the terrorists thought I took their Twinkies (who would be so stupid as to take THEIR twinkies? And who even LIKES Twinkies anyhow?)

36 comments:

Laura said...

Haha!! I sometimes have really vivid dreams, and I get really frustrated when I wake up and the emotions I felt in the dream linger in reality.

Generally I think dreams are just dreams, but that God sometimes uses those dreams (just like he uses the other ordinary stuff of our lives) to remind us of something, to comfort us, to stir us up, to push us toward prayer, etc. After a dear, close friend died of cancer, I dreamed about being in her room and talking with her, and woke up feeling incredibly comforted in my sorrow over her death. I see that dream as a gift of grace from the Lord to ease my grief.

But terrorists and Twinkies? Sorry, girl... can't help you there.

Mother Hen said...

I'm sorry I can't answer your questions about interpreting dreams. But I dream crazy weird stuff like that usually when I am over-tired or ridiculously hormonal (read pregnant). The Dollar Tree has the tests for $1. Just a thought.

BettySue said...

When I dream like that it means I am pregnant! LOL.

I have learned from experience that when I dream about someone I haven't thought of in a while, they are in serious need of prayer. I had reaccuring dreams of a childhood friend of mine and later discovered her husband was beating her! The worst of my dreams happened on the night he held a gun to her head. (She divorced him after that). So, yes they occasionaly mean something. I am getting where I recognize what is God's prompting and what is too much pizza right before bed!

kristi_temple said...

I believe that some dreams have meanings and some are just because you ate something like pizza right before bed. I believe that the Lord definitely does still use dreams to speak to his children. Sometimes they can be a warning of something to come or insight into a problem a friend is having or just the encouragement you were needing. However, there is always the dream of walking along the beach with Big Bird talking about how we are going to save the world. I don't think that this dream actually means anything other than TOO MUCH SESAME STREET the day before.

Polly said...

Crazy dream!

I do find meanings in my dreams, but I don't *try* to do so. In other words, I often think reading too much into dreams is just sort of invalid. But at the same time, I have had prophetic dreams, and that's where it gets weird. Many times I've dreamed one thing and within 1-2 days the EXACT situation has happened. It is incredibly disconcerting, because I never expect it.

My grandmother has had a few dreams like this in the past and two of them predicted the deaths of her husband (who was already sick from cancer--so one could say this was obvious) and her daughter (my mother, who was NOT sick at all) via a very specific scenario that then the next day occurred.

Weird. So I don't know. I do think God CAN use our dreams to talk to us. I just don't know if He does it with me. And I cannot explain the fact that I will dream of a situation and then have it actually occur.

Nicole said...

Frozen twinkies are actually quite good :)

Amanda said...

:)

I think you can find more meaning from the way in which you interpret the dream than the dream itself. :)

Heather said...

I have found meanings in my dreams before. I think God knows that's the best way to reach me. I used to be troubled by my dreams, especially ones that seem prophetic, because I don't believe in psychics or anything like that. But after reading about the many instances in which God uses dreams in the Bible, I came to see it as a gift. I don't think every dream I have is a message from God, but I definitely am aware of possible meanings to all of my dreams.

EllaJac said...

I absolutely think God uses dreams to speak to us. My husband had two very symbolic dreams earlier this year that gave some very clear direction to a situation we'd been praying about. God used dreams to jerk a knot in my tail as a teen, and they've told my dad what was going to happen in situations, even though the dream (to me) wouldn't have sounded anything close. He understood the symbolism, though, and exactly what he understood was happening, did.

I'm GUESSING your dream isn't along those lines, however. :)

Stacie said...

I agree that sometimes God uses dreams to speak to us. Sometimes they are more obvious than others. Last summer I was trying to get an increase in responsibility at work in order to gain more experience in my field. I was able to hire someone to take on a large part of my work so that I could take on new things. Then my boss said something that made no sense. He told me that we would "work towards more responsibility" (read: not right now) and I was so frustrated. I now had someone doing a large part of my job and I was left feeling like, "now what"? That night I had a dream that God told me to wait. I didn't know His reason but I trusted. A couple of weeks later I found out I was pregnant with my second child. At my 20 ultrasound we found out that we were having a girl and that she had one of the most severe heart defects possible, hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Basically, she only has 1/2 a heart. Our daughter is now 4 months old and doing well. She had her 1st of 3 heart surgeries to alter her blood flow from her heart to her body and lungs at 4 days old. She spent the first 2 months of her life in the hospital and she will have her 2nd surgery in late October. Now I know why God said wait. Kyrie is not able to be in daycare yet due to her health so I have to (read: get to :)) stay home with her without worring about work and whether things are getting done. I don't have the stress of wondering if I will be replaced.

Luke said...

I'm of the opinion that God uses what makes sense to us. This is most notable in Christ coming to earth to walk among us, but it is demonstrated elsewhere in the Bible. In the case of interpreting dreams, I think it was prevalent in cultures where dreams were assumed to have meanings. But I don't think God would use dreams to try to get a point across to someone who doesn't put stock in dreams.

God actually takes the "time" to communicate in ways relevant to us. That is humbling, and encouraging.

And that's my two cents.

~Luke

Catherine R. said...

Firstly *I* like Twinkies. Spongy and creamy and totally nutritionally void.

I don't know if all dreams have meaning. Maybe some? The bible talks about meaningful dreams, right? Some dreams, I wish I didn't have and feel guilty about.

I would be interested to find out if there is any official doctrinal stance on this. The subconscious mind is a weird thing.

Holly said...

I kept having dreams about being pregnant. I told my friend about it and she told me that the "interpretation" of that was not babies, but upcoming change. I few weeks later, I got a new job. My mother was very sad after the death of her father and one night she dreamed about him. She saw him and asked him how he was. He replied "Great! The food is real good here!". She and I both found laughter and comfort knowing that the food was great in Heaven.

asinamirror said...

I think dreams definitely can mean something, but they don't always. When they have a specific meaning, I think we kind of inherently know it, even if the meaning is not immediately clear. Sometimes we dream about people who need prayer. Sometimes we dream dreams that mean something to others, which I think is usually accompanied by a strong desire to tell that person what you dreamed (without necessarily knowing why). If nothing else, we can always look to the prophecy of Joel 2:28; it is certain that God will send dreams, but we should still be cautious about misinterpreting those: Jeremiah 23:32 and 29:8.

SouthAsiaRocks said...

Dreams are so weird... I've definitley had some weird dreams! My favorite one is when I went "skiing" on pancakes and got tripped up by the butter :)

I think that God totally uses dreams - but he uses them more often in cultures that give dreams a higher importance. We have had a lot friends become believers because of dreams - cool stuff :)

Randy and April said...

I need to learn NOT to try to interpret my dreams! I'll have a dream about my ex-boyfriend and wake up freaking out that I have some sort of repressed feelings for him and that I'm not honoring my husband--talk about unhealthy thinking! Also, I keep having dreams that I'm pregnant (we're trying, unsuccessfully so far). Do you know how many pregnancy tests I've wasted after waking up from one of those dreams? Sometimes it's just a dream. But I absolutely believe that God can speak to us through our dreams, or that they can sometimes tell us things about ourselves.

J Matt Miller said...

I have had dreams that even came true. Only two, but the first one was a dream before I had any idea that my husband was interested in me. In my dream he asked if we could write to each other. I woke up and thought, "What a weird dream" and I mentioned it to my best friend but completely forgot about it. Less then two months later, that is exactly what happened although he asked my dad, not me directly. It is a looong story but one of the first things I thought of was my dream and I felt such peace because it was God that had given me a heads up.

My second dream was after we had three girls and we had an almost 2 year break. I dream one night about a chubby baby boy that was rolling around on our bed while I was trying to change his diaper. I told my husband and the girls about the dream in the morning and a week later, discovered that I was pregnant. I knew it was a boy but I kept it to myself. Again, it felt like God had let me in on a secret. It was very special.

But that was only two dreams out of hundreds. Both of them felt significant when I woke up. I also have a recurring nightmare about a bridge that I really hope has no meaning and is just based on a childhood terror.

~Diana

jarmstrong said...

I think God may even use our dreams to bring unrepenant sin to the surface...how we may truly feel about something/someone.

I have quite vivid dreams (pregnant or not!)...I wonder what the one about the New Kids On the Block coming over to my place for the weekend meant...hmmm...very thought provoking! ;)

Kristin said...

I absolutely think God can (and does) still speak to us through dreams. My mom had a dream like this years ago, when she and my dad were facing a tight timeline for house-hunting before a move. The night before their last day to look, she had been praying that God would guide them, and show them where He wanted us to be. That night she dreamed she was walking into a house that just felt like home - big front window with lots of light, and she could see the kitchen straight ahead. In her dream, she looked down and noticed the carpet was brown. She said she remembers saying, "God, thank you for the house, but I really wanted GRAY carpet!" When she woke up, she pulled my dad and me aside and told us about the dream, because it was so vivid and felt so strong. At the very end of a long and unsuccessful day of looking, my parents noticed one final house on their list that they'd somehow missed seeing before... they called and got no answer. They decided to drive by, just to see, and got there just as the family was pulling into the driveway. When they walked in the front door, Mom was squeezing my dad's hand so tightly because everything was exactly like in her dream... EXCEPT - the carpet was gray. The family's name was Prophet, and they were Christians; everyone prayed over the house at closing. My parents still live in that house.

There's been one other dream that has yet to come true, but I'm holding on to it in hopes that it will, someday - my aunt, who is also not a usual "dreamer of dreams" had one very vivid one earlier this year. In it, she saw my mom sitting in a chair, holding a newborn little baby girl while two little boys, about five and three, played on the floor. She could hear my husband's and my voice around the corner, and knew they were our little ones, and my mom's grandchildren. This has been such a source of hope for our family because my mom is fighting stage 4 cancer, and I am struggling with infertility. We all believe the dream might be God's way of telling us to have hope, to trust Him, and to wait on His timing and for His plan. It can be hard to do that sometimes, but the image of my mom holding my baby is one that I cling to in the dark hours.

Cara said...

I have often had some of these same questions in regards to dreams too. I came across this passage in the scriptures and wondered if it pertained to my dream life.

Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou has tried me and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Psalm 17:3

Cara from simplycara.com

DarcyLee said...

I rarely remember my dreams but the ones I do remember are usually recurring dreams (especially the scary ones) and the very vivid ones. Most of the time I think our dreams relate to our circumstances at the time. For example, I've read that if you are flying over things like houses, people, etc., then you are feeling that you have no control over your circumstances at that time and feel the need to rise above it all. It can get interesting to study dreams but it's not always accurate. Some dreams are about our hopes, some about what we fear, and some are just last night's pizza. Our minds are complicated and can play tricks on us in our dreams and I don't think they can be relied on to tell us the future.
From what I've read in the comments I can see that what I'm about to say won't be too popular. I don't believe that God speaks to people in dreams any longer. Since we have the complete Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, we shouldn't add to it or take away from it as we're told in Revelation 22:18, Deuteronomy 12:32 through 13:1-4, and Proverbs 30:5,6. I believe God used dreams to speak to people in the Bible because the Bible wasn't completed yet. There were still some parts to be written. How else could John have written the book of Revelation if God didn't tell him what to write down?
My intention isn't to offend anyone, just sharing my beliefs on the subject.

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

I believe it. Firmly.

I've had some come true, I've had some not come true. Most are gibberish.

Spencer

Beth M. said...

I think there are dreams that mean something and dreams that don't. I wonder if the difference has something to do with the content.

I often have dreams that are clearly pieced together from my memories, things I've been thinking about, or things I'm actually doing in my sleep. If I'm cold or need to use the bathroom, those things will sometimes show up in my dreams. When I was pregnant, I had baby dreams (actually, nightmares would be more acurate - fortunately they never came true!). I had one very vivid dream in high school that involved an orchestra concert, plus running down school hallways looking for my locker - all elements clearly from my real life. I don't think dreams like this usually have any meaning.

On the other hand, for the Pharoah of Egypt to suddenly dream of fat and skinny cows - that seems a little out of the ordinary. The Pharoah ought to be dreaming of gold, jewels, beautiful concubines, scheming advisors, etc. So perhaps dreams containing elements not clearly from recent events or personal memories are more likely to have meaning?

I don't think it's quite this simple, since other commenters here have described dreams that have familiar components, yet turned out to have meaning. It's just one factor to consider.

Deb Burton said...

What an outstanding thread of discussion!

I don't think God speaks to us regularly through dreams, but I do think He can and does from time to time. Other times, especially when the same dream occurs repeatedly, I think we are subconsciously trying to work an issue out, but I don't think these happen very often either. Most of the time I think we dream just because our mind never actually shuts itself all the way off.

Interesting topic. :-)

Claire said...

I've never had a dream that I felt was from the Lord, but I have friends who strongly believe that some of their dreams are sent from God. He speaks to people in all kinds of ways, so why not in dreams? I hardly even remember mine, unless they're disturbing. Yours is weird! Are you sure you're not pg? :-)

MandyMom.com said...

I agree, who likes Twinkies... especially after finding out what they're made of. Ewwwie.

I think some dreams DO have meanings.. I know God has used dreams to reveal or remind me of things... but lately, my dreams have been wacked out- like, back in highschool, dating ex-boyfriends, but still married with children wacked out (oh, while being hunted by bad guys).

sara said...

If dreams do have still have meaning (beyond psychological), then there should probably be some serious testing of spirits going on. I wouldn't care if the dream was a spot on prophecy; if it came from anyone but God, I wouldn't want it.

Jess said...

OK, OK, all of you people telling me (or implying) that I need to go get a test...

my little guy is six months old. Six.


And.


They don't have Dollar Stores in Turkey anyhow. :)


No, but seriously, that was a really strange dream. And that wasn't even the half of it.

I know God does speak through dreams throughout the developing world (Central Asia, the 10/40 window, North Africa, the Middle East, etc.); many people have come to faith because of it. I think a large part of why God speaks through dreams to that part of the world is because their worldview still allows for the supernatural, whereas the "Western" mindset acts as if the spiritual world does not exist.

Thanks for all the interesting input so far; good discussion!

Jacquelyn said...

I myself don't have too many "God dreams" as we call it in our house but I know quite a few people who do... If in doubt ask Him! Often God is more willing to answer than we are to ask.

One dream that had significance for us was just after we had our first babies, identical twin boys, but our second twin was stillborn. A guy who had recently met my parents had a dream about our baby, Jeremiah, in heaven. A few things stood out to him... Jeremiah was four years old and he was holding on to someones hand, the hand was large and particularly gnarled, not in a bad way but like it belonged to someone who had done lots of hard physical work.
So there were a few questions he asked, how was Jeremiah 4 years old when he had only just been born? God said to him that time doesn't matter in heaven! And who did that hand belong to? My dad realized that he had described my grandad's hands rather well for someone who had never met him. My grandad had been a farmer all his life and had graduated to heaven several years earlier...

So it was comforting to us that God could use some guy we didn't even know to remind us that things had turned out OK. And my grandad had one of his little great grandsons to walk around heaven with.

Oh and I was pregnant again when our first baby was just 12 weeks old...hehe
Jacqui

Anonymous said...

I don't know about dreams, but my little guy is 9 mo. old, breastfed, and I am 13 wks. pregnant with twins (#s 5 & 6)!!! Just saying...

In Christ,
Sara

Bethany Hudson said...

I don't know if God speaks through dreams much these days, but it's proven fact that our subconscious speaks through our dreams all the time. If He's Lord of all, then surely He's Lord of our subconscious, too? So, why not? The tricky thing, I believe is in interpretting dreams. In Scripture, Pharoah clearly knew that his dream was from God--but he admitted that he didn't know what it meant! I think dreams can be a lot like circumstances in our lives: God can use them to speak to us, but we should be careful not to assume that we know exactly what He's saying.
~Bethany

Shannon said...

I've always had very vivid dreams. But about a year ago I had a dream that was so much more vivid I really felt it was more like a vision:
I was transported to a castle tower where Jesus was standing. I watched my youngest daughter (at the time she was about 8 months old but in my dream she was about 3 years old) go down with Jesus to a sea of water. There were fish leaping out of the water and Jesus held my daughter as she reached out and caught one.
I "interpreted" my dream to mean that a harvest among the lost was going to happen and that we would be part of it. It was a dream that came at a time of discouragement and it gave me a renewed passion for Christ and His Kingdom.

Mom said...

I rarely remember dreams anymore. I used to dream more and remember them, or maybe I still dream and just don't remember them. I remember an old "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry woke up in the middle of the night and started laughing and wrote down an answer to a riddle or joke, and it was apparently something that he had been trying to remember for a long time. He was so relieved. But then when he woke up the next morning, he forgot the actual joke, and it wasn't until the end of the episode that he remembered it, and it was a let down, because it wasn't even funny like he just knew it would be!
I have had some wierd ones, and I actually woke up in the night one time, and wrote down my whole dream, and there was a lot to it. I think I learned quite a bit at the time, and the Lord really helped me realize some things through that dream. In the past, when I've been extremely tired or stressed, I've had really strange dreams. The dreams we hear about in the Bible are very interesting, and this subject in general is very interesting.

Sarah Joy Albrecht said...

Jess,

I had a dream that a friend I hadn't seen in about five years was having trouble breathing. In my dream, I was standing at the foot of his bed in a white room and he kept telling me, "tell them I can't breathe!"

The next day, I searched for his long lost phone number. I finally found a number for his parents' store. An employee answered, and I was given my friend's mom's cell phone number.

She was in the hospital waiting for my friend to wake up from a medically induced coma. He had had a lung transplant in the middle of the night!

Talk about creepy!!

I DO believe that God can speak to people in dreams, but I have a hard time meshing this with my Reformed Theology. Interested to hear what others say.

Much love,
SJA

Donna said...

I've recently found your blog and I love it!!! To answer your question here, I find that dreams that make the most sense tend to come true. As in vivid and it doesn't start in Philly where I am with one set of people and end in California with another:)


Two dreams come to mind that's come true one of them was a dream that my sister, best friend, niece and myself were going out. I was driving my sis sat between my niece and best friend and both were pregnant. I recall being shocked in the dream and they were both like 6 months or later so they had to be that way for awhile:) So assume my shock had to do more with reality than the dream. But shortly after having that dream, both of them informed me of their pregnancy. My niece's daughter's bday is in July and my best friend's daughter's bday is in August.

I've learned that if I had those types of dreams to tell people about it and it's not often and I let them know this could mean absolutely nothing not posing to be Joseph here but figured I'd let you know about it just in case:)

ponderonit1 said...

I too think sometimes dreams are just dreams and sometimes God speaks to us through dreams. I have had a few dreams that I knew were from God because when I woke I felt His presence. God uses many things to speak to us, but His word is the one He uses the most.