Most people I talk to don’t know how to interpret the dreams they have during the night. With a smile or laugh they tell me their crazy dream, not thinking it has any significance. I’ll laugh with them at the funny surface meaning, but then I’ll often reply, “Would you like help to understand your dream?”

In the Bible people knew that their dreams may be from God and so they listened carefully to their dreams as a source of guidance. When they didn’t understand the spiritual meaning of a dream then they’d seek the help of a discerning prophet of the Lord. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Gideon, Joseph the adoptive father of Jesus, Peter, Paul, and other Bible characters received guidance from God by listening to their dreams.

Most dreams are not prophetic, but still may be from God as an opportunity for greater self-awareness and discernment of God’s wisdom for your life. With normal nighttime dreams there are psychological and spiritual angles to understanding them. As John Calvin taught in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, knowledge of  God and self are connected. Listening to your dreams is helpful for all of us and is especially important as part of psychotherapy or spiritual direction.

The Deeper Meaning of a Dream

Typically there’s stuff in your dreams that seems random. Your unconscious mind is pulling events from your day or your past to tell a story. The images and scenes are like a kaleidoscope that may be interesting or funny, but is probably confusing. This is why we tend to laugh off a dream or shrug our shoulders and move on. But underneath that surface level there are emotional meanings in these dreams and perhaps spiritual significance as well.  

For instance, I dreamed that I had a penny in my hand and someone was trying to take it from me. So I ran away holding tightly to my penny! When I woke up my hand was in a fist and I was sweating! I literally looked in my hand to see if a penny was there! That was almost thirty years ago. It seemed silly until I reflected on all the financial pressure I was under, paying over $30,000 a year for Kristi and I to go through graduate schools in psychology (in the late 1980’s). Sharing my fearful emotions with Kristi and the Lord helped me.

Praying About Our Dreams

“The Spirit of truth” is at work deep inside our body and soul, praying earnestly to help us become more aware of reality, certainly of God’s presence and action, but also of our own inner self and experience (John 14:17, 16:13; Rom. 8:26). One way that God helps us to be more aware of reality is by using our dreams to help us pay attention to what he’s saying or what we’re experiencing.

This is a very important teaching about prayer and it relates to our dreams. The Spirit of Jesus is praying for us continually, but a lot of the time we don’t notice because we’re busy thinking about and doing other things with our conscious, rational mind. But to go to sleep we need to shut down our thinking and relax. This gives the Holy Spirit has more room to bring feelings, images, and ideas into our conscious awareness.

So Kristi and I ask the Lord to speak to us in our dreams and to help us interpret them.

T-TAQ: A Simple Method of Dream Interpretation

Many people who interpret dreams have elaborate systems for attributing mystical meaning to various symbols. I’m cautious about this approach. But dream interpretation isn’t just for prophets and psychologists. Anyone can learn how to better understand their dreams. The key is understanding the underlying emotions of your dream and relating these to your life and how God may be guiding you.

David Benner, a Christian psychologist and spiritual director, suggests a simple method of dream interpretation in his book Sacred Companions. The basic idea is to treat your dream as a story or narrative, like a movie to enter into. You’re seeking to understand the unconscious meaning, psychologically and spiritually. This is the T-TAQ Method of Dream Interpretation, using T-TAQ as an acronym.

You can do this verbally with a soul friend or by journaling. In either case, look to God to help you understand what he wants you to know about yourself. Going through these TTAQ steps is messy, even chaotic. You need to tell and re-tell your dream to remember it all, go deeper into the emotions, organize the story, and attend to it’s question. Then like creating art something beautiful and divine may emerge!

T: Title

A story needs a title. If your dream was a Hollywood movie or a play at a theater, what would you call it? To start keep this top line blank. Speaking and/or writing out the other steps will help you come back and title it.

T: Theme

What is main point or storyline in your dream? Describe this in a phrase.

A: Affect

What are the affects or emotions that are going on for you in this dream? What are you feeling and experiencing in the different parts of the dream? Enter into the story and describe your experience in each part. You may feel anxious, scared, sad, angry, or ashamed. Whatever you feel, put words to it. You’re moving from the surface level of the dream to it’s deeper meaning.

Q: Question

What question is left unanswered in this dream? There’s going to be a point of tension in a dream, something that’s not resolved, something that doesn’t make sense. There might be more than one question, but write down one or two key questions about the dream. These are your discernment points. Hold these before the Lord and ask him to speak to you. Share your dream and question with a compassionate and discerning friend.

The Psychodrama Method of Dream Interpretation

Psychodrama is a group therapy technique that we used in the Minirth-Meir and New Life psychiatric hospital program I directed a number of years ago. The therapist helps a client who needs to help with a painful memory to bring each person from that memory into the room, using other clients in the group as actors and actresses. You can apply this with your dream to help you move deeper into the emotions (the “A” in T-TAQ) of your dream and re-work them. It’s often surprising how much insight you gain from this approach to dream interpretation!

Usually in a dream you are in the dream observing things or observing yourself. But in this method you’re treating every person in the dream as a part of you. The wisdom of this approach is that contrary to what you may think, usually your dreams are about you, not the people in your dream. So you’re going to enter into the dream’s narrative like you’ve been given a role to play in a movie. You become each person in the dream and describe your feelings. You can even do this with the objects in a dream. If there’s a car or a wall in your dream personify and put words to the experience.

From the storyline of your dream ask yourself, “What’s going on in my life where I feel what this person or object felt in my dream?” Then unpack your emotions in your actual life situations.

Emotions and Hearing God’s Voice

Most Christians don’t realize that understanding your emotions helps you to hear God’s voice. Of course, what God is saying and what you are feeling may not be the same thing! Feelings make wonderful servants, but horrible masters! God is God and your emotions are not. However, feelings are associated with thoughts and together they form the normal channel for how we hear the still, small voice of God.

If you’re blocking or repressing your emotions it’ll be much harder for you to connect intimately with God or hear his voice. For all of life, not just understanding our dreams, it’s imperative to have at least one soul friend, and ideally a few, that you can process your emotions with. Unpack your life experiences, using feeling words and asking for the listening and compassion that you need. As I often say, “Empathy is Oxygen For Your Soul.”

If You Don’t Remember Your Dreams

Some people tell me that they don’t remember their dreams. Often I don’t remember my dreams either, but if you never or rarely remember them you’re missing out. You’re more likely to remember your dreams if you’re getting enough sleep and if you want to remember them.

If you want to remember your dreams then pray before you sleep that God will help you remember your dreams. Then get a journal and put it close to your bed so you can write down your dream as soon as you awake. Rehearsing your dream in your mind right away in the morning and then telling it to someone will help you to remember it.

It’s especially valuable to pay attention to your dreams if you’re going through a difficult time or need to make an important decision. When you need special discernment and divine assistance you may feel that it’s worth interrupting your sleep to write down a dream or pray about it in the middle of the night.

I trust that the Spirit of Truth will help me to remember the dreams that are important for me to listen to and pray about.

Resolving the Conflicts in Significant Dreams

Just the fact that you remember a dream probably means that it’s more significant. But what really shows you that it’s significant is when it’s a reoccurring dream. Some people have the same dream for years. Another sign that a dream is is especially important to pay attention to is when you have vivid emotions in the dream.

For instance, throughout my twenties and into my early thirties I used to have flying dreams. Some people fly in their dreams and it’s a wonderful, happy experience, but my experience was miserable! I’d be flapping my arms furiously to fly away from some danger. I was very anxious, scared, and pressuring myself to flap harder to keep from falling! I woke up stressed out and exhausted.

I hated those dreams and just wanted them to go away! Instead, I listened to my dreams, sharing them with Kristi and praying about them. In psychotherapy I worked on my issues with anxiety, ambition, and presenting an ideal self. When I resolved the underlying conflicts in that dream I stopped having it.

David says, “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” (Psalm 16:7) A practical way to cooperate with the wisdom of the Lord in our hearts is to memorize passages of Scripture and then meditate on them as you lay in bed before going to sleep or when waking during the night. It’s a way of building “Quiet Time” into your daily life. I do this every night.

Since I began an intensive program of memorizing paragraphs and chapters from the Bible and meditating on them at night I’ve found that sometimes the Spirit of Truth brings verses or related prayers into my dreams. Occasionally he even helps me to interrupt a dream and pray accordingly while I’m dreaming it!

Try An Experiment

The way we learn and grow spiritually is venture on God. We try something new, depending upon the gracious presence and action of the Lord to assist us, and then we notice what God does.

Here’s an experiment you can try tonight. Before you go to sleep pray, “Dear God, please speak to me in my dreams and help me to remember them. What do you want to say to me? What am I feeling that I’m not paying attention to? What are you trying to teach me about myself or my life?”

The little boy Samuel did this as he went to sleep. His prayer puts it nicely: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam. 3:9-10)

31 responses to “Interpreting Your Dreams

  • dream i was in the presence of the Lord in a room filled with many people with sword and I heard my name called , I was all the way in the back hiding amongst others in a corner when God called me out of my hidding, he asked why are you hidding and I stood up with my sword and ran out I started fithing skeleton demons until I went i to hidding again in a house under a table and called me out again but after that I woke up. What does it mean…

    • Hi Migdalia, we encourage you to use the TTAQ method Bill outlines here to work through your dream and to do so with a trusted soul friend. Blessings!

  • I will be a shortest possible. I had a disturbing dream last night. And more significantly it’s the 1st dream I can remember in years. I was driving on a dirt road. To the left was forest fire everywhere. I saw deer fully engulfed in flames running. Maybe 4 Females but it was hard to tell for sure. I saw a male deer standing about 75% in flames. I felt calm in the dream However it certainly seems disturbing for my only dream

    • Hi Brad, thank you for sharing with us. I encourage you to work through the TTAQ process in this article and share this verbally with someone who can offer you empathy. Blessings!

  • I had this dream once where I could see myself laying there on this flat concrete table face down. I turned to look with my mind, as I could not move anything else. I saw myself sitting in a chair, than I turn again to see myself standing. From standing I looked through myself into my dream and I could see that I was there sleeping as I was, as if I were a twin of myself looking at me in the clothes I had on when I went to bed and everything. Than I switched back to myself standing and turned back to me sitting, and when I turned around to myself laying face down on the table I noticed something very strange. There were 9 figures standing in a circle around me. They all had the face of slenderman, and looked like they had somewhat human bodies, however I knew in my “dream” that they were not. I remember in my dream consciously, telling myself I was in danger, but could not move, scream, yell, shout, or talk for that matter. All I could do was use my mind to see everything that was going on around me while the whole time laying face down. What happened next was even more bizarre. One of the figures standing near the right side of the top half of my body walked up to me right next to my shoulder. It took its hand and stuck its long, skinny, pointy looking finger and made a rectangular trace on my right shoulder blade. The thing than had a box in it’s hand. It put a shiny, black (obsidian/graphite) Pyramid with swirls and dashed lines and weird, foreign, letter,symbols, and shapes in the box. Than placed the box in my right shoulder. To this day it still feels like there is something in my shoulder. I don’t know what is there, but I KNOW that something is in my shoulder blade. Call me crazy, nuts, or whatever, but that was more than just a dream. Any thoughts? Helpful advice? Sarcasm and jokes aside please help me to figure this out!

    • Hi Kameron, Thank you for sharing this with us. I encourage you to work through the TTAQ process in the article. Blessings!

  • I keep having dreams with the same person in them. In the past we would communicate, even without words sometimes in these dreams. The next day or so, something would happen and I would understand or be aware and not alarmed, because the dreams forewarned me. As life has gone on, I married, and no longer am friends with this person. But, the dreams have not stopped. They did for awhile, then I would have a couple and suddenly hear from them. Of course, one dream warned me to stay away at a certain time, which was a good thing. The next wasn’t vivid, they were just there. Again a call for help came soon after. Over the last month 2 vivid dreams, and I am unsure how to approach this. I feel in my heart YHVH told me to continually pray for them and that we would be friends. But, choices were made, and that doesn’t look like that will be. Should I pray for this person to stop appearing in my dreams? I wish I knew what I was suppose to do.

  • I had myself and my sister dream about the same thing, sister dream that she was casting or rebuking something out of me, then I stop here and said : No my daughter, I had a dream yesterday night, very short dream, my mum guiding me in to my scan appointment and I could see I was pregnant?, what does this mean?

  • I had a dream last night that I was at a gathering for a distant friends memorial. It was nighttime. We were at the land we had growing up and by the campfire telling old stories. Then, we were all in my older brothers old house doing the same thing. However, this time we noticed a strange dry light coming from someone’s mouth. Immediately me and other believers knew it was not good. It was pure evil. I had a deep feeling of fear. I went to open the door to the room to get my keys and both times I tried the door was harder to open and the room got colder and colder. This force began to take over the entire house and would not let anyone leave. My whole family was there as well. Me and fellow believers in the room began praying fiercely. I prepared myself for war, ready for battle, feeling very assured that God would take care of things. I kept reciting the Lords Prayer rooting my feet into the ground like a soldier standing strong and unmovable. I kept reciting Ephesians 6:10 and woke up actually reciting Ephesians 6:10. I have been praying for direction on a big decision lately. Is there a possible connection?

    • Hi Monnica, Thank you for sharing your dream with us. We cannot interpret the meaning, but I encourage you to use the TTAQ steps that Bill outlines in the article to see how God may be guiding you. Blessings!

  • I had 2 instances of the Holy Spirit leaving me. This happened after I had woke up and then the horror of not believing He is God. Like I could become what I was before receiving God. The second dream was more scarry. That feeling if He left me I would no longer be I’ve there was a God, and it seems real so I cried out both times Jesus rescued me. I don’t know if this is to warn me or reasure me. My faith has been a roller coaster ride since I came back. I truly believe we cannot lose salvation at all. Thanks.

  • Hi Bill. I had a dream 2 nights ago. In my dream I was with a lot of people as if we were tourists at a rock cave. There was a young teenage boy who had suffered severe blisters (as if he had been burnt from hot boiling water) covering his entire back. I knew he needed healing so I walked over to him and started praying over him with my hands hovering all over his back. As I was praying and asking God to heal this boy his severe blisters were healing right in front of my eyes but as he was healing I felt such a strong tingling, burning heat sensation come through my entire body or my spirit and I strongly remember feeling Gods presence. I woke up and I wrote my dream down in a journal and This dream still repeating in my mind. Could you help me understand this dream. Thank you and may God Bless You

    • Hi Susan, Thank you for sharing your dream with us. We cannot interpret the meaning, but I encourage you to use the TTAQ steps that Bill outlines in the article to see how God may be guiding you. Jesus, guide Susan as she seeks You in this dream. Give her discernment and one of your ambassadors who can walk with her in this discernment. Amen.

  • I dreamt 3 times about harm coming to the most precious person in my life.The first time I saw him fall into a pit toilet, the second time he fell into water and he cannot swim, the third time I told him to wait for me to guide him down a stair case but he refused and in the process he slipped and fell. Each time in the dream I end up screaming and wandering if he is still alive. In the last dream, I decided to fall down with him because i felt life was hopeless without him. He is only 3 years old.
    The second reoccurring dream i have been having is always being unable to reach a height that i see every one reaching or crossing a short gutter that i would ordinarily cross but i am always held back in fear. I am bothered because the dreams are recurrent. Kindly give me some biblical suggestions/opinions and prayer points. Thank you

    • Connie, I understand you being troubled by these dreams. They’re probably psychological and not prophetic. The recurring nature emphasizes their significance to you. It seems you’re emotionally tied into your 3-year old son and needing to develop more of your separate identity/boundaries. Maybe you’re afraid for him to become more independent and not be able to protect him, which feels like losing him. The second dreams suggests this is all very emotional for you and you’re trying to rise above it, but can’t.

      I encourage you to work through the TTAQ process in my article and share this verbally with someone who gives you empathy. In my book I offer a Biblical perspective on getting help with anxiety and fear and on developing boundaries and self-esteem. This is put into the context of learning to live in Jesus’ “easy yoke”: Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke.

      Blessings,
      Bill

  • I had a dream last night I got up from bed to check on my baby daughter a car was going by all I seen was dust and that I was half naked then a helicopter flew in my front lawn shining it’s light bright into my house I got down on the ground as to cover myself I thought my daughter was with me I was afraid but at the same time I was wondering if someone was hurt I looked down again and I was dressed. Do you have any idea what this was.

    • Liza, I encourage you to follow our TTAQ method and share your dream with a friend who knows you well, will try to understand your feelings, and pray for you. Don’t rush for an interpretation. If God has a message for you in your dream the normal way to discern this is what I’ve described.

  • I had a dream last night. I was in the jungle were l grow up in the Philippine. I was trying to see what above me. I have a feeling there’s an bad activity going on. As l reached the top l seen a black bird. I grad it and hold on the neck to speak what is going on. The black bird wont tell me anything. I have a knife holding in the neck of the black bird. But the l turn it so the bird won’t get cut. And still won’t tell me anything. I let it flew back to the top of the tree. I climbed up to the top tree and it’s hard to see. But l can hear a few people moving and talking , but not clear. I found a hard wood and it was dusty and wrote I Love God and in his name Jesus. The energy l was feeling got angry doesn’t like l wrote those letters. And try to erase it. I started praying, and l found a broom twigs l try to reach it until l got it in my hand. I throw it between the hallway and I hit the wall , went throw it l can see a little light. And it came to me. I throw it again and it went through same hole. So l finally went in and l was looking for the person which is my Father mistress. She was a bad woman in real life she lie con and steal. But l couldn’t fine her. She left with other bad peoples. And as l go around l was fighting with a few that was left there and save a few people that good. As l walk down the wall l see an ugly old woman and try to harm or stop me butl fought back. I meet an old man and told him to bring the baby back to the safe place and we jumped down to the river and swim we separate l end up to other end of the river and So my Mother ( she already passed away and so my Father and her Mistress) lying on the ground and looked sick and the baby. I’m not sure what my connection with the baby l don’t exactly remember the detail on this part. But l know my Father mistress did it and
    I was sad that l wasn’t there to protect my mother. Please help me to interpret my dream.
    I have a lot of dream about God and Micheal the Archangel.that l don’t write it but remember them since when l was a 9 year old and l can still remember most of the details.

    Thank you,
    Judelyn

    • Judelyn, thank you for sharing that. It’s best for you to interpret the meaning by using asking God’s help, sharing with a friend, and using the TTAQ steps that Bill outlines above. I am asking God to give you insight and discernment. May you rest in his great love for you today!

  • I had a dream where I was in the living room at home in the night. I lay on the coush ad as I was about to sleep, I felt something strange around me. So I got up and started praying violently.
    I also dreamt that a friend of mine took me out and bought me some snacks. She then asked me to pick one and I took a doughnut. But I never actually ate it in the dream.

  • If a dream has you feeling bad (lack of peace, unsettledness, discouragement, condemnation etc), I highly doubt the dream came from God. God does reveal things to us in dreams but the enemy tries to come in and speak through dreams too and many times they are normal dreams that He tries to deceive us with. That’s why it’s important to discern those dreams from God and those that arent. One way to do that is through how you feel in the dream and after the dream when you wake up. Dreams from God might bring conviction but never condemnation, that’s not in His character.

  • To Mrs. S R Warren Did u manage to get your dream interpreted? I know flying in the dreams mean you are moving deeper into the spirtual realm moving into higher things of God.

  • Title: I finally did it
    Theme: I was telling her how much I missed her and hugged her.
    Affect: We were all leaving the restaurant and I rushed to her and hugged her. I told her how much I missed her. I fell back onto the ground with her hugging me while her voice was telling me we will hang out soon. She looked so happy to see me.
    Question: Will I ever get the chance to do that in real life to hug her and tell her I missed her so much?

    Funny thing is I prayed about seeing her and saying it. Then right before I woke up I had that dream. I had tears going down my face. I have hope.

  • Is there any danger of encountering or encouraging evil forces when you start writing down your dreams?

    • Dear Craig, Bill encourages each reader of this article pray about their dreams.

      He says, “‘The Spirit of truth’ is at work deep inside our body and soul, praying earnestly to help us become more aware of reality, certainly of God’s presence and action, but also of our own inner self and experience (John 14:17, 16:13; Rom. 8:26). One way that God helps us to be more aware of reality is by using our dreams to help us pay attention to what he’s saying or what we’re experiencing.”

      Pray about the process and invite Jesus in the midst of it and He will guide you.

  • I dreamed I was taken to prison for no reason at all. Then a few nights later I dreamed a hit man told me that he was sent to kill me but he will not kill me. He also gave me some documents and told me that some one framed me and he doesn’t know how am gonna get out of the situation. Moreover he told me I should lay low because he wants my enemy to think am dead. Then I woke up

    • Hi Kay, though we cannot interpret the meaning thank you for sharing with us your dream. I encourage you to use the TTAQ steps that Bill outlines in the article to see how God may be guiding you. Dear Lord I ask that you will guide Kay as she seeks You in this dream and I ask that you will give her discernment. Thank you Lord that it is your desire to be close in relationship with us and I thank you for Kay’s heart for you. In Jesus name, Amen.

  • I had a dream of an outside concert at an amplitheatre. It was a praise and worship concert. As I was walking toward the stage the performer was walking out on the stage too. I shot straight up in the air and was flying. I noticed i was wearing a baby blue silk dress. I said let me get my bearings and did a few flips. Next thing you know power lines appeard, I thought I was going to get caught in them. However, I shot straight up and over them. I placed my arms beside me and flew with power. I dove down like a bird and sailed over the heads of the audience at the concert, I was about a foot over their heads and then shot straight back up in the air. I know this has great spiritual meaning.

  • please help me interpret this dream I dreamed an angel told me I prayed so hard I coughed up a boy who shattered glass the angel told me that God said this is my answer please help me what does it mean

    • Julia, though I cannot interpret the meaning of your dream I can encourage you to “look to God to help you understand what he wants you to know.” and by also using the T-TAQ Method of Dream Interpretation by journaling as Bill Gaultiere encourages in the article. Heavenly Father, I pray that you will guide Julia as she seeks you in her life and I thank you for your care and love for her. Amen.

  • Last night I was dreaming of a Prophet, a few people was in a row kneeling down, I was one of them, me and another girl was taken away by the Prophet, she said we were the laughing prophets, don’t understand why I was dreaming about that.

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