Principles of Christian Dream Interpretation

 

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“The best teaching I have ever seen
on interpreting dreams!”
- Sid Roth

The following article was taken from the book Hear God Through Your Dreams by Mark and Patti Virkler. If you find this information helpful, you may be interested in the book as well as an audio CD series and DVD series by the same authors. Both are also available electronically as an ebookMP3s. and video download. They will greatly increase your ability to interpret dreams. 

 

Christian Dream Interpretation Outline:

Defining Dream and Vision:
  1. Dream - "A sequence of images, etc. passing through a sleeping person's mind" (Webster's Dictionary)

  2. Vision - "A mental image" (Webster's Dictionary)

  3. "In a dream, a vision of the night..." (Job 33:15)

    You will note from this verse the close connection the Hebrews maintained between the dream and the vision. The words are used almost interchangeably.

    Both dreams and visions involve the viewing of images on the screen within one's mind. Often we would think of a dream as the flow of these images while sleeping and a vision as the flow of these images while awake.

  4. Daydreaming is MAN utilizing the visionary process. This is not encouraged, and may be what is referred to in Ecclesiastes 5:7. It is better to present the eyes of the heart to God and ask Him to fill them with a divine flow of dreams, visions and godly imaginations.

 

Some Scientific Observations Concerning Dreams

Sleep laboratories have proven that everyone dreams one to two hours each night during a certain period of sleep known as alpha level, which is light sleep. Every 90-minute cycle of sleep begins with alpha, then goes into deeper sleep which is called theta, and finally deepest sleep which is called delta.

At the close of the first 90-minute cycle each night, the individual returns to alpha level sleep, where he has a short, five-minute dream period. The next time he cycles up to alpha, he has a ten-minute dream period. The third time in alpha, the dream period is about 15 minutes, and so on. If one sleeps a full eight hours, the entire last hour is essentially spent in alpha level sleep. Thus, the average person sleeping for eight hours a night will dream about one to two hours of that time.

Alpha level sleep is where one has what is called Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Rapid Eye Movement is exactly what it sounds like: the eyes of the dreamer begin moving rapidly. He is actually watching the scenes in the dream, and thus his eyes are literally moving back and forth, observing the action. By observing the alpha level sleep when Rapid Eye Movement occurs, researchers in sleep laboratories have determined when a person is dreaming and how much time is spent dreaming in an average night.

They have discovered that if they awaken a person every time REM begins, preventing him from dreaming, after about three nights the individual will begin to show signs of having a nervous breakdown. Clearly dreams are an inner release mechanism which helps provide us with emotional balance and maintain our sanity. Dreams can be considered guardians of our mental and emotional well-being.

 

Seven Reasons We Should Listen to Our Dreams
  1. God declared that He WOULD speak through dreams and visions in the Old Testament.

    And He said, "Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream" (Num. 12:6).

  2. God declared that He DID speak through dreams and visions in the Old Testament.

    "I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets" (Hos. 12:10).

  3. God declares that He WILL communicate through dreams and visions in the New Testament.

    "And it shall come to pass in the last days," saith God, "I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17).

  4. God declares that He WILL COUNSEL us at night through our dreams.

    I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind (inner man) instructs me in the night (Ps. 16:7 NASB).

  5. Rather than our dreams being fatalistic, dreams are calling us to change SO WE WILL NOT PERISH.

    For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then He openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That He may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword (Job 33:14-18, emphasis mine).

  6. God does very significant things WITHIN dreams. For example, He established the Abrahamic Covenant in a dream.

    And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him....And God said to Abram....In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying... (Gen. 15:12,13,18, emphasis mine).

  7. God grants supernatural gifts THROUGH dreams.

    In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, "Ask what I shall give thee...."

    "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?"

    "...Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee...." And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream (I Kings 3:5,9,12,15).

 

Summarizing the Importance of Our Dreams

God has chosen to communicate with mankind through dreams. He guides and counsels us through our dreams. He establishes covenants with us through our dreams. He grants us gifts in our dreams. He utilized dreams from Genesis to Revelation, and declared that He would continue to use them in the last days. When you total up all dreams and visions in the Bible, and all the stories and actions which come out of these dreams and visions, you have about one-third of the Bible, which is equal to the size of the New Testament! Dreams are a central way God has chosen to communicate with us, and thus they must be given great weight!

 

Five Things You Can Do to Help Recall Your Dreams
  1. Say to yourself, "I believe dreams contain a valid message."

This is a signal to your heart that you are taking it seriously and want to hear what it has to tell you. You are giving it permission, and even asking it to awaken you after each dream. Your heart will do exactly that. You see, if you do not awaken within five minutes of the dream ending, you will not recall it. If, however, you tell your heart that dreams are leftover undigested pizza, then you heart lets you sleep through the dream and doesn't awaken you after it is over, and thus you do not recall it.

 

  1. Ask God to speak to you through dreams as you fall asleep.

God does answer prayers, especially when prayed in accordance to His will!

 

  1. Put your journal beside your bed and immediately record your dreams upon awakening.

You will forget most of your dreams by the morning, so get up and write them down when you awaken.

 

  1. Get eight hours of sleep, as the entire last hour will be dream-time.

 

  1. Awaken naturally, without the use of an alarm clock, as alarms shatter dream recall and blast tidbits of dreams into oblivion where they are never found.

 

If you will do the above five things, you will recall dreams every week.

 

Discover Seven Foundational Principles for Interpreting Dreams
  1. What is the most important underlying truth for dream interpretation? Once you realize this, you will see how your dream interpretation skills can be sharpened by simply playing the game "Pictionary" or "Bible Pictionary!"
  1. What is the underlying principle that explains why Joseph dreamed of sheaves and sun, moon and stars bowing down while Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of statues of gold?
  1. What is the underlying principle that explains the timing of Paul's dream of a Macedonian man motioning for him to come on over (Acts 16:6-11) and Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a tree being chopped off at the roots (Dan. 4:9-27)? Once you understand this key, it is much easier to draw out the meaning of the dream.
  1. Where must the meaning of the dream be drawn from? Have you been looking everywhere but here?
  1. How much emphasis should be placed on the dreamer bearing witness with the proposed interpretation?
  1. According to the book of Job, do dreams reveal, or condemn, or both?
  1. Is it OK to make a major decision in your life based on a dream?

 
Get answers to these questions now! Request your 3 free dream interpretation videos.

 

Discerning Dreams About Yourself
  • What percentage of your dreams can you expect will be about you -- your inner self, your current situation, your relationships? (The answer may surprise you!)

  • Should you begin the process of interpreting your dream with the assumption that it probably is about yourself, or about something/someone else?

  • Which aspect of the dream should be analyzed first? Can the way you feel upon first awakening provide clues? What if your heart is pounding in fear? What if you were confused, frustrated, angry, rejected, or threatened?

  • How does analyzing the action of the dream next offer keys to its interpretation? What specifically should you ask the Holy Spirit to show you about the action? For example, if in your dream your car is going backward, what is the question to ask that will unlock the meaning? If you dream of dying, what question might you ask that could reveal that this "death" is actually a good thing?

  • What do the people in your dreams often represent? You can determine their significance in each dream by asking yourself this simple question!

  • Could the name of the person that appears in your dream be significant? If so, how?

  • What do animals often represent in your dreams? Ask this simple question to find out! Hint: It will depend on your geographical home, your personal experiences, your knowledge of the Bible, and your own culture.

  • When you face the animal in your dream rather than running from it, what might you find happens to the animal? Is this a good thing?

  • What about numbers in dreams? Are these supposed to be interpreted literally or symbolically?

  • What clue about your dream can be determined based on if you are an observer of the action of the dream, rather than a participant? What are the 17 dreams in the Bible that demonstrate this principle?

  • How does word play become important in dream interpretation? For example, could dreaming about ketchup actually provide some insight in your life?!

 

The Simplest Method for Interpreting a Dream About Yourself

OK, so based on all the various principles of Christian dream interpretation, what is the best way to interpret a dream? Where do you start? Then where do you go next? What vital question must continually be asked during this process?

 

Dreams About Others

What percentage of your dreams can you expect will be about others? (You might be shocked!)

Does the dominance of the right brain hemisphere vs. left brain hemisphere in a person make it more or less likely to dream further away from home (away from his own self)?

For example, I have noted that three different woman who scored as extremely "lopsided" on a Brain Preference Indicator test (the most extreme scores I have seen) have vivid dreams about others in which they see the murders, rapes, and thefts taking place in their communities that night, and which are indeed reported in the newspaper the following day. These were literal dreams of real life events. Obviously, not all dreams about others show such fearsome pictures. These are just given as examples I am personally aware of.

What is the simple and obvious explanation for the vast majority of the dreams in the Bible being dreams about others?

 
Get answers to these questions now! Request your 3 free dream interpretation videos.

 

Clues Which May Indicate Your Dream Is About Others
  1. Are you are an observer of the action?

    How does it help to ask yourself if you play an active role in the dream, or if you are only an observer to the activity of the dream?


  2. What if the dream just does not fit your life?

    The question you should always ask God, which will help you to discern if the dream is about yourself or about someone else.

 

Dreams Which Tell of the Future

In a sense, many dreams are foretelling the future. Who might be more likely to have these types of dreams?

 

Additional Thoughts Concerning Working with Dreams
  1. Are dreams reliable messengers? Can they reveal the condition of one's heart, or the voice of God within one's heart? What does the Bible say? How often might we attribute dreams to satan or demons?

  2. In the Bible, when people awakened, what did they do in response to their dreams? (Hint: Almost nobody does this anymore!)

  3. Are the messages and warnings in dreams absolute, or are they conditioned upon man's response? (It's the same principle that applies to prophecy.)

  4. What about sexual dreams? How should they be viewed? Are they always sinful? Never sinful? What insights can I gain into my life through them?

  5. What is the cause of repeated or recurring dreams? How can I make them go away?

  6. What causes nightmares? How can they be stopped?

  7. What dream interpretation principle is similar to Occam's razor?

  8. Successive dreams on the same night are often helpful why?

  9. Do dreams call the dreamer to action?

  10. As you approach the dream, what should you assume that you know about the dream? What two things will tell you what it means?

  11. What do the location of the hook of the sewing machine needle and the discovery of the round formation of the Benzene molecular structure have to do with dreams?!

 
Get answers to these questions now! Request your 3 free dream interpretation videos.

 

Warnings About Dreams and Visions???
  1. Are there warnings in the Bible to beware of your own dreams?

  2. Are there warnings in the Bible to beware of another person's dreams?

 

A Method for Interpreting Dreams in a Group
  • What is the "Key Question Approach" to dream interpretation?

  • Why is this one of the most effective ways to interpret dreams in a group?

  • What safeguards will help keep from embarrasing the person whose dream is being interpreted by the group?

 

Example of Dream Interpretation

I had two dreams on the night following the day I learned to hear God's voice, see God's vision, and journal (write out what God was speaking to me). The simple act of putting my journal next to my bed and asking God to speak brought me several dreams that first night.

 

Dream # 1

I had a new job as caretaker of a house. I was in the house going up a flight of stairs and I was riding a horse. At the top of the stairs I entered the bathroom and took out some cleaning supplies.

 

Interpretation

Question: "In what way do I have a new job?"

Answer: "Just today, I have begun to hear God's voice, see vision and journal."

 

Question: "In what way do I feel like a horse on the stairwell?"

Answer: "I feel extremely awkward tuning to the flow of God's Spirit, seeing vision, and journaling. This way of living is an art I will need to practice until I become comfortable with it. Right now, I feel like a 'bull in the china closet.'"

 

Question: "In what way will this path take me up a flight of stairs?"

Answer: "Hearing God's voice, seeing God's vision, and recording them will take me to a higher place in my walk with God."

 

Question: "In what way will I be getting out some cleaning supplies?"

Answer: "Hearing God's voice will clean up some areas of my life."

 

Dream # 2 - on the same night as the above dream:

I had pulled my car into a parking lot and turned off the ignition. However, the engine would not stop; it kept backfiring.

 

Interpretation

Question: "What am I trying to turn off that is not turning off?"

Answer: "My analytical brain, so I can tune to intuition and thus hear the voice of God."

So the above two dreams are talking about issues taking place within me and are counseling and encouraging me, saying, "Even though I feel awkward about this new direction in my life (of hearing God's voice, seeing vision, and journaling), if I will keep with it, it will take me to a higher place in God, and it will clean up some areas in my life. And yes, it is going to be a struggle to shut down the analytical reasoning process in my life which has ruled me and been a god in my life for many years."

 
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The preceding article was taken from the book Hear God Through Your Dreams by Mark and Patti Virkler. If you found it helpful, you can purchase the complete study manual here. This book can be completed individually or in a small group and there are audio CDs and DVDs to help maximize your learning experience.

For a true mentorship opportunity, invest in the full "Wisdom Through Dream Interpretation" course offered by Christian Leadership University, which utilizes this same material and integrates even more principles from other books on Christian dream interpretation. You will earn college credit while mastering the ability to hear what God is saying through your dreams and the dreams of others. You may then choose to go on and earn your certificate or degree from CLU; an online university where each course will guide you into receiving direct revelation from God on a subject, and actually allow Him to become your primary Instructor.



You Can Host a Christian Dream Interpretation Workshop in Your Area

Mark Virkler is available to conduct this seminar at your church or in your community. This practical, life-changing experience will give each attendee a firm grasp on the principles of Christian dream interpretation. As an engaging, interactive teacher, Mark encourages participation of the whole group, and uses the dreams of seminar volunteers for hands-on training.

Learn more about this exciting opportunity!