How to Recognize Spiritual Messages in Dreams
Remember the last time you woke up in the middle of a wonderful, crazy dream when your alarm went off? As the last images of that dream ran through your mind, you got the sense that your dream was trying to tell you something. A message had come to you while you slept — something profound that elegantly emerged from the jumbled mess of symbols in your dream.
The impression was so strong in your mind that it compelled you to try to recall your entire dream before it faded from memory. Maybe you even took the time to record your thoughts and feelings in a journal or mobile device while they were still fresh. You knew that the message was important, even if you didn’t fully understand it.
Your dream was not only significant, it may have been divine.
While many dreams are simply the results of your brain processing information, others send messages straight to your soul. These spiritual dreams are gifts from God, through which he or his messengers (angels) communicate with you in thought-provoking ways.
Who are you to get a message from God while you sleep? Well, why not you? God sometimes uses dreams to communicate — and he may do so for anyone who’s paying attention.
The world’s religious texts often describe God or his angels speaking to humans through dreams. For instance, the Bible and the Torah describe the prophet Jacob dreaming of angels going back and forth between heaven and earth on what has come to be known as “Jacob’s ladder” — a portal that symbolizes prayer traveling across dimensions between God and people. That beautiful image was a message of encouragement to Jacob, a man who was seriously discouraged when he lay down to sleep that night (he was trying to outrun his brother Esau, who wanted to kill Jacob for deceiving him). Recorded for future generations to read, that famous spiritual dream is just one of many in history.
One night I believe God sent me a dream to answer my prayers about my mom, who had died a few years before. Missing her intently, I had asked God to send her my love and to let me know something about what she was doing in heaven. That night I dreamed I saw my mom in a busy airport. Mom, who was known for her love of travel, was riding an escalator upward, on her way to a new adventure. When she sensed me looking at her, she turned around and smiled at me, communicating without words that she was enjoying the afterlife and sent me love, but had to go for now. When she stepped off the escalator and out of sight, I felt a tremendous sense of peace and joy mixed together, even though I still missed her and wished I could follow her.
You never know when God may reach out to you through a dream; it could happen anytime. If you believe it’s possible, and if you’re seeking God, you’re in the best position to notice divine dream messages when they do come.
The ways God or his angels may communicate with you in dreams include:
· Sending you creative inspiration: God or one of his messengers may send you an innovative idea through a dream. Many scientific breakthroughs and artistic projects throughout history have resulted from dreams. For example, physicist Niels Bohr, who won a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of the atom, dreamed about that structure first and then confirmed it through lab tests.
· Guiding you to solve problems: Solutions for problems in your life may come to you in your dreams as God answers your prayers for guidance. Inventor Madame CJ Walker prayed for help solving the problem of her hair falling out after a scalp infection. Then she dreamed of an angelic man who showed her the specific ingredients she needed to create a hair care product that would help. After she woke up from the dream, Madame Walker got to work on the product, which successfully solved hair problems for not just her, but many others after she sold it — and became a millionaire in the process.
· Healing you from past pain: You may receive divine healing for your soul while you’re dreaming about something that caused you pain. Famous adventurer Bear Grylls said that he dreamed about falling for 18 months straight after he broke his back in a skydiving accident, and those dreams helped him recover emotionally and regain his courage.
· Warning you about an issue that needs attention: Through dreams, God or his angelic messengers may warn you about something important that’s dangerous to ignore — such as an unhealthy habit (like an addiction) or a person who needs your help. Bestselling novelist Stephen King has said that his nightmares not only give him ideas for his horror books, they also act like mirrors that show him issues he should address in his life. Sometimes divine warning dreams predict a future event, as well. For instance, former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln had a vivid dream that he was going to be assassinated shortly before that actually happened.
· Encouraging you with peace or confidence: Perhaps the most common type of divine message delivered during dreams is encouragement. Encouraging dreams give you peace when you’re worried about something or confidence when you’re facing a risk God wants you to take. Olympian Edwin Moses reported that he had a series of encouraging dreams prior to a 400 meter hurdling race that gave him both the peace and confidence he needed to run well. The dreams featured numbers that indicated the race’s date and Moses’ running time. Moses did so well in the race that he broke a world record.
God is always communicating — and you may hear from him while you’re awake, as well. But during sleep, you’re more likely to pay attention to whatever God is trying to tell you, because you’re relaxed and therefore less likely to be distracted. Also, your subconscious mind is open to all information. Your conscious mind may discard valuable information because of stress, biases, or negative emotions such as fear or anger. But your subconscious mind is constantly open to learning something new.
So pay attention to what you see, hear, and feel in your dreams. Record what you remember about them soon after you wake up. Meditate on them. Pray about them. You may surprise yourself by what you discover!
Whitney Hopler works as Communications Director at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being (CWB) and has written for many media organizations, from About.com to the Washington Post. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and connect with CWB on Twitter and Facebook.