For the video version of this article go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un9hp6_FsEM
Yesterday I made a video that touches in the realm of prophetic dreams and the varied response brought to my attention how there is a large ignorance gap in the church as it relates to the function, nature, and approach we should be taking when seeking to interpret dreams that appear to come from the Lord. Firstly, if you are a Cessationist (believing most spiritual gifts have ceased) then you have started from a place that fully excludes the possibility of God speaking through dreams in modern times because you ultimately believe it may undermine the authority of scripture. I can understand this reservation. However, scripture is meant to guide us in the process of hearing from God not prohibit the process entirely.
If you are a Continuationist (believing all spiritual gifts still operate) like myself then the challenge becomes two-fold. 1.) How do I initially discern the difference between a carnal dream, a demonic dream, or a dream from the Lord. 2.) If I have determined the dream is from the Lord, how do I interpret it properly?
As it relates to the first challenge of discerning the difference between a carnal dream, demonic dream or prophetic dream I have a few tips. I say these things from the place of someone who has had prophetic dreams, discerned the interpretation, and observed the dream coming true. I would first point out that carnal dreams are often hard to remember afterward, have no linear progression to them, appear to be full of random attributes with no significant relevance. When you have a carnal dream you often wake up without any real compulsion to remember or reflect on the dream.
Demonic dreams are obvious. The are much more memorable than carnal dreams and invoke terror, fear, and paralysis. They often include events which would cause you to be hopeless, feel enslaved, and full of despair. I have found them to include the distinct attribute of wondering "where is God as I suffer through this?" My response to demonic dreams is to ignore and not share. This works to diminish the work of the enemy and deprive him of receiving any attention as a result.
Prophetic dreams are distinct. We understand from scripture that they include lots of memorable and vibrant imagery which contain symbolic meaning for current or more often future events. There are also some components of the dream that are not meant to be taken symbolically so this is where we must pray for discernment from the Holy spirit. They are meant to help you prepare from what is coming and to know that God is not surprised by it. Sometimes they also include hints on actions you can take to draw close to God in the present. Prophetic dreams will also repeat sometimes so keep that in mind. The feeling you get in a dream that is from the Lord is exhortation, edification, and comfort. It may reveal things of great concern but will also direct you to God as the ultimate solution.
This is only a cursory review of the topic of prophetic dreams but I hope it helps those who have been confused by this topic in the past. The Bible instructs us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts and one way that the gift of prophecy can manifest is through a dream. If you receive a dream that you think may be from the Lord make sure you bathe it in prayer, write it down, and ask for the interpretation. God also may have people in your life who can help you discern it's meaning. If you did not see the video I posted yesterday in this realm you can view it here: https://youtu.be/tnOtgiRw938
Written by: Kyle Bailey, D.Min.
phot credit: https://www.livescience.com/62703-why-we-forget-dreams-quickly.html