To get the full benefit of hearing from the Lord through dreams, I find it helpful to keep a dream journal. The longer we wait to write down our dreams, the more details we forget. I keep separate journals for dreams and my other hearing from the Lord so that I can easily find a dream, if I want to refer back to it. I write down the actual events and details of the dream first, and then note my interpretations separately. If we jumble interpretations together with the actual dream data, and our interpretations are somewhat faulty, when we do receive better understanding at a later time it is hard to remember which was which. By keeping a dream journal, we send a message to the Lord that we take what He says seriously, that it is important enough to us to take the time to write it down.
I actively ask God to speak to me through dreams. I keep paper and pen next to my bed, and if I awake after a dream (which usually happens to me right after a God-dream), no matter how tired I may be, I make the effort to rouse myself to write down all the details immediately. In the morning, as soon as possible, I sit down with the Lord and discuss the dream with Him. I ask Him questions: “What did this mean?” “Why was I doing this?” “Why was the object this color?” “What did that object represent?” As I ask the questions, God supplies the interpretations.
I’ve generally found that God does not volunteer information unless I ask for it. This goes for other ways of hearing from the Lord as well, but it is particularly true of dreams. As I sit with the Lord over a dream, often He brings recall of other details I had already forgotten.
Details of a dream are important. God does not put them in the dream if they are not significant, and if we don’t pay attention to those details, we miss valuable information. Surroundings, how we felt emotionally during the dream, who else was there, and whether we saw ourselves in the dream or were onlookers at the scene should all be noted. Putting together the full picture of what God has been speaking through a dream is a lot like solving a mystery: we need all the clues.
We should be careful not to assume that we know the interpretation of the dream through our own natural thinking. I am amazed by the number of people I encounter who do not ask God to interpret their dreams, but instead try to figure them out for themselves. When we do that, we run the risk of ending up with a marred version of what God wants to speak to us, especially if we take the details of our dreams literally, instead of understanding their symbolic nature.
Because dreams are usually symbolic, what they look like on the surface is often not really what they are about. Even people we recognize in a dream may be a representation of something else, rather than the dream being about that person. For instance, a man I knew, an elder of a fellowship other than my own, appeared in one of my dreams. The dream was about the condition of the Church (all the local bodies) in our city, and the man in the dream represented church leadership throughout the city. It was not really about him personally, but if I had taken the dream literally, rather than allowing the Lord to give me understanding, I would have come up with a totally wrong interpretation of what God wanted to say through the dream.
Drawing the interpretation of our dreams solely from dream books is another mistake to be avoided. Dream books can be useful tools if we are not receiving a full interpretation from the Lord. But they should be a last resort, rather than the first source we turn to. Dreams are highly personal, and meanings of details in them are often minutely tailored to us. Dream books list what certain items have meant commonly to many people, but it does not necessarily follow that an object must mean what the dream book says. If you choose to purchase a dream book, make sure it is one coming from a Christian perspective and that you do not give it infallible status in your mind.
More on maximizing our dream experience next time.