“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”Genesis 40:8
Joseph was a dreamer (Genesis 37:5-9) like his dad Jacob (Genesis 28:12-17). Joseph, like the prophet Daniel (Daniel 2 & 4), was also able to interpret dreams through the gift that God had given him.
Dreams are one of the primary ways that God talks to people. One reason this seems to be the case is that it is one of the only times our rationality doesn’t get in the way of God speaking. Dreams from God are often highly symbolic and need the help of an interpretation in order to understand them. It’s like the creative writer who has to find a way for their inner editor, the rational side of the brain, to be quiet so that their creativity can emerge. Otherwise, they experience writer’s block. If they are able to silence their critical thinking, they get into a zone where the creativity flows and the story takes on a life of its own.
This is the same reason God speaks to us in our dreams. He wants a blank canvas on which to paint without our doubts, cynicism, criticism, and rationalism plugging our ears.
A few weeks ago a guy in our church had a dream where he was told to go back for prayer after one of our church services. He obeyed what God told him to do in the dream, received prayer for physical healing, and he was healed! It wasn’t an audible voice of God in His dream, but more of an impression. It was just slight enough to ignore if he wanted to and yet just strong enough to obey if he was willing to step out in faith. He chose to obey, stepped out in faith, and he got healed.
I was praying for a friend the other day, and I asked the Lord to reveal the source of some of her struggles. A few days later she had a dream that highlighted the main source of some of her issues. The Holy Spirit answered our prayer by giving her a dream. The dream made things crystal clear.
I value counseling and psychology. I was a Family Studies minor in college where our main focus was learning the dynamics of family systems theory. Psychology is important and valuable. Unfortunately, parts of it have led us to devalue our dreams. Our culture chalks our dreams up to being totally from our subconscious or some weird reaction to the food we ate the night before. And while this is true of some dreams, it is not true of all dreams.
Our dreams have three sources: 1) our subconscious; 2) the enemy and his kingdom of darkness; or 3) the Holy Spirit. We need to pay attention to our dream if it seems meaningful or significant. It could be a way God is trying to speak to us. We may need others to pray with us for discernment and for an interpretation. If we have dreams that are full of fear, terror, or disturbing and dark imagery, it may be an attack from the enemy. If it doesn’t seem to have a message and doesn’t seem to be significant, it may just be our subconscious or something we ate. All three are real possibilities.
But just because it isn’t always the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean that it is never the Holy Spirit. Many people who say, “I just don’t hear from God,” don’t understand the different ways that God can communicate with us.
Right now, throughout the Middle East, hundreds and hundreds of Muslim people are having dreams of a man in white who says his name is Jesus and who sends them to go talk to a local missionary in order to hear more about who He is. Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus by the hundreds through these kinds of dreams.
In the Bible, dreams have always been a way God speaks to people, and dreams will continue to be a way He speaks today.