Are dreams God’s way of sending us messages?
This is an excellent question! The answer is both yes and no.
When we go to sleep, our minds don’t completely shut down. Think of your mind in two layers: conscious and subconscious. The conscious layer is the top layer and it processes things that we hear, see, smell, say, etc. It works immediately to help us process all the information we receive while we’re awake and this layer speaks our language.
The subconscious part of our mind is the bottom layer and it processes harder things. If you have an important project due for school and you’re worried about your grades, you might dream of giving a big presentation in class and having everyone laugh at you. That kind of dream would be your subconscious helping you process your stress and anxiety while you sleep. Our subconscious usually speaks in symbols and can be difficult to understand, even when the message seems obvious.
Dreams, like everything in our bodies and minds, are God’s creation and He can use them to give us messages if He chooses to. I’ll give you a couple of examples of times in my life when God could’ve been using my dreams to speak to me.
When I was about 6, I started having a dream that my family was all home and our house was on fire. Every time I had this dream, my family all survived the fire and got out of the house just fine, but it still scared me. I had that dream about once a month until I was 12 years old. The dream stopped after our house caught fire that year. Just like in my dream, everyone made it out just fine and most of our possessions were okay, but no one else in my family ever had the same or even a similar dream.
The second time was before I met my husband. The guy I was dating went on a vacation with a couple of friends to the Bahamas. While he was gone, I had a dream that he kissed another girl. I thought the dream was ridiculous and when he returned, I told him about it. He got really quiet, then told me he’d done exactly what my dream showed me and we broke up.
I can’t say for sure that these dreams were God trying to protect or warn me, but it seems like they were because they weren’t things I could’ve known otherwise.
In the Bible, God uses dreams to give people messages. In the Old Testament, God gave dreams to Joseph in Genesis 37 to show Joseph that he would rise to a position of power greater than the positions of his brothers or even his father Jacob. In Daniel 2, God gave a dream to King Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel interpreted for him. In the New Testament, God gave a dream to Joseph, the father of Jesus, in Matthew 2 to warn him to take his family and flee to Egypt because Herod was going to search for Jesus to kill him.
Yes, God can and does use dreams to speak to us, but not every dream is a message from God. Some dreams are just helping us process stress or worry. Because dreams tend to use symbols as their language, they don’t always mean what they seem to at first.
If you’re having disturbing dreams, I suggest three things: Pray, ask if your pastor knows anyone with the gift of interpreting dreams, and if the dream has to do with health issues, see a doctor in order to put your mind at ease.
Has God ever spoken to you through your dreams?
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 visions (Joel 2:28).