4 Types Of Dreams And Their Meanings

Some people dismiss the idea that dreams can have significance. Others believe that there is spiritual meaning in every dream and that all should be interpreted and taken seriously.

I believe that the Biblical viewpoint lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

4 Dream Types

Identifying which type of dream we have had can help us determine whether to consider a potential meaning in the dream, and what—if anything—to do with it.

Here are four dream categories that I have personally found helpful:


1. Ordinary, Processing Dreams

Dreaming is a natural function of the brain, occurring mainly during the REM stage of sleep. [1]

I believe that it is not necessary to seek meaning in the majority of our dreams.

Last night I watched a murder-mystery on DVD before I went to bed—something I usually avoid. Not surprisingly, my dreams contained an element of danger.

I do not remember most of my ‘processing’ dreams—and those that I do recall quickly fade. However, other people I know are vivid dreamers and can recall them clearly. Sometimes people refer to unusual but meaningless dreams as ‘pizza dreams.’

The GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) principle applies to dreams. Whatever we feed our senses and minds with will invariably find expression in our sleep.

‘Much dreaming and many words are meaningless…’ (Eccl 5:7)

If you are unsure about a dream you have had, pray about it. Perhaps it may fit in one of the other dream types.


2. Prophetic Dreams

‘For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men and seals their instruction.’ Job 33:14-16 (NKJV)

From the book of Genesis all the way through the Bible, dreams are one way that God speaks to His people.

However, even those who were gifted in the area of dreams and dream interpretation (Joseph and Daniel, for example) only had a few dreams that were significant enough to be recorded in the scriptures.

Joel and Peter mentioned dreams as one manifestation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, along with prophecy and visions. (Acts 2:17)

There are many ways that God used dreams in the Bible—for example:

  • Warnings (Abilimilech, Gen 20:1-8))
  • Revealing destiny and the call of God (Joseph, Gen 37:5-10)
  • Impartation of a spiritual gift or ability (Solomon, 1 Kings 3:5)
  • A strategy for provision (Jacob, Gen 31:10)
  • A sign of His Presence (Jacob’s ladder, Gen 28:12))
  • Guidance (Paul, Acts 16:9)

The Hunk and I occasionally have dreams that we believe contain prophetic insights from God. I find these dreams have a greater than usual clarity and I awake with a sense of God’s Presence.

Let’s increase our sense of expectation that God will speak to us through our dreams. [2]


3. Soul Dreams

Soul dreams reveal emotions, attitudes or beliefs that we may be trying to deny or repress.

They are a means that God can use for good—to help us bring them into the open and deal with them.

Signs you may be having a soul dream include:

  • Actual memories resurfacing in your dreams
  • Vivid emotions that you can link to an event, past present or future
  • Repeating, or recurring dreams

Soul dreams may indicate a response, such as fear or anger, to an event that is happening at present in our lives, or that we are anticipating in the future. If something from your past is surfacing in a dream, you can be assured that it is ready to be dealt with and that your loving Father is waiting to bring healing to you.

We should never dismiss soul dreams as being unimportant. They give us insight into our inner world.

If you are having soul dreams that you believe are significant, pray about them and ask God how you should respond. If needed, find a leader/mentor or wise Christian counsel to pray with you and help you process whatever is coming to the surface.


4. Spiritual Warfare Dreams

On occasion, I have experienced spiritual warfare during my sleep.

When this takes place, God allows demonic intrusion into our sleep for His purposes:

  • To set us free and bring us closer to Him,
  • To pray effectively and
  • To expose hidden strategies of the enemy.

a. Spiritual Warfare

‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ (Psalm 4:8)

Dreams can be an alert to pray during times of spiritual warfare. There have been times when I have woken my husband and we have prayed together because I have experienced a demonic confrontation in a dream. We know that our prayers have made a difference.

b. Demonic Oppression

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,’ (Psalm 91:5)

Repeated nightmares can be a sign of having an ‘open doorway’ in our lives for demonic oppression. Those who have experienced trauma, or been involved in occult (personally or generationally), for example, may be vulnerable in this area. Many years ago I had regular nightmares. Through receiving prayer ministry I was able to identify the source of these and gain freedom through prayer. [3]

It is important to remember that God is greater than any other spiritual influence and that as Christians we have power in prayer, using the Name of Jesus, to overcome any spiritual attack.

c. Discernment

Some people who have the gift of discernment may experience conflict in their dreams, or be alerted to a demonic presence or strategy through a dream. [4] The purpose of this may be for a prophetic warning as well as for prayer and intercession.

‘You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.’ (1 John 4:4)

We should never be afraid as the result of a dream. If you have a dream that you are concerned about—no matter what type of dream it is—share it with someone you trust and pray about it.


Notes

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream

[2] The following articles may be helpful:
What To Do When You Have A Prophetic Dream.
How Do I know A Personal Prophecy Or Dream Interpretation Is From God?

[3] Prayer Ministry is an extended session of prayer with 2 or more trained prayer ministers in a safe, supervised setting. It should be used in conjunction with pastoral care in the church and if necessary, professional counseling.

[4] See 8 Signs You May Have The Spiritual Gift Of Discernment.


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Do you have any thoughts to share on the topic of dream types? Leave a comment on the comments box. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down. (Note that I will not be giving dream interpretations on this post)


© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

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30 thoughts on “4 Types Of Dreams And Their Meanings

    • Yes I seem to remember prophetic dreams have precipitated a number of miraculous breakthroughs in our lives. It is good to be reminded of the many ways in which our Father wants to communicate to us, so that we can be open to receive more!

  1. Hi I don’t know if you could shed any light on a dream I had but its troubling me a bit. I’ve had it three times in the last couple of months with each successive dream extending the scenario a little. It is always the same – I approach a very large rectangular shaped manmade lake filled with grey green water and turn right to walk alongside its concrete banks with my husband beside. There are people swimming and fishing in a set area – there is no wall but there seems to be a set line some 20m out beyond which no-one ventures. Patrolling this line is a huge salmon coloured fish larger than a man that appears to be harmless. The impression I got was that the fish was originally someone at my husband’s work (he works in a hospital) but he decided being a fish was better. As I continue to walk towards the right edge of the lake, the fish starts swimming his patrol line in the same direction. The first dream ended there. In the second dream, my husband and I entered the shallow water at the edge of the lake and the fish started approaching us. I started splashing the water to push it away. I still thought it was harmless but I saw the glimpse of something else like a crocodile. In the third dream, the fish came right up to us and I was really splashing to push it away but was not scared of it. My husband told me to stop making noise but I continued because I wasn’t afraid. The fish turned into a gigantic white ghostly crocodile and lunged at me with its mouth open. I woke up with a deep pervading sense of fear that I could not shake until I woke my husband and we prayed.

    • Hi Debra, yes, that dream is quite unpleasant! Praying together is a great response. I think sometimes we can get hung up on interpreting or making meaning out of details and elements in a dream. It may be worth praying more generally about whether you have any fears or anxiety relating to your husband’s work or workplace that are surfacing through the dream. I pray that you progress to a place of peace about it and that the dreams will cease.

  2. Yes, I have many dreams and I will record it in my devotion notebook and seek for the interpretation from the Lord. Sometimes, I will have the interpretation right away but sometimes, I can just wait for a long time. Anyway, it is good to read your article because it enrich me in getting to know more about our dreams. Thank and God bless you all.

    • Having the notebook is a great idea! I record any significant prophetic dreams on the computer and sometimes print them out for our prophecies file or my personal journals. And I agree that insight regarding the purpose of a dream can sometimes take time… that’s been my experience too. And I don’t think Joseph could imagined even in his boyish enthusiasm, the complete fulfilment of his early dreams about rulership.

  3. I absolutely love this. I have the gift of interpreting dreams that God is training me in right now. Dreams have come to past, some have taught, some were attacks!!!! And some I have no idea what they are about, one that is getting me is an extremely symbolic dream, as I was waking I heard “the capstone the builders rejected””. So I looked it up and it’s Jesus. And I get the parable. But there is more to that dream because I’m still not satisfied.
    I was dealing with the spirit of fear for months. Talk about being oppressed. It only occured in the home my family and I were living in. The house was so creepy and evil and I didn’t notice till after I recomited my life. I’m not ungrateful, I’m thankful for my gifts. But it’s like God dropped them all on me at once. God will let you bend, but won’t let you break! I definitely got bent! My world got turned upside down! I was terrified! Every night, demonic attacks, everytime I was alone I felt surrounded by demons, my hair came out from stress, I had so many attacks in my sleep that I refused to sleep. I would cry before I went home. It was he’ll! I grew up in church all my life and when I got older I would get drunk with friends, and I had a lustful spirit! Did those things bring on the attacks after I got my act together? Maybe. But what I do know is that I did the worse thing possible…I called out Satan. Things were going bad in my marriage and I know when I am talking to my Husband and when she is letting the devil use him to get to me. I was so angry that I said “fine Satan, you want to mess with me, then bring it”. Right now, I can picture the devil going to God asking if he can have me. Then God saying, sure, you can do this and that, but not that or this. the whole time thinking, she’ll come out on top and Love and praise me anyway. When the devil brought it, he brought it! I was torn into pieces with attacks in my sleep and you know what the answer to those problems was? Not praying to God to send the devil away cause Jesus already did that. It was authority. I had to learn that. I’m glad God allowed the bad dreams. Not gonna lie, my soul was torn to pieces and I can’t wait till God restores me, cause it hurts to think about it. I went through something that most people would have ended their lives over. When I was really down I would tell God I wanted out, I don’t want the gift of discernment, Im not a Seer, I’m not that person. Im glad God ignores things like that because my dreams mean a lot to me and I don’t know about any other gifts I have but God will show me, teach me and train me when the time comes. Going through he’ll for months changed my way of thinking. I want a better relationship with God now. And at the moment I want to know more about prophetic dreams, I just love my dreams from God. And it all started with a dream. A terrifying dream, but a dream that changed my whole life.

  4. I dont know if you can help me not but I had this dream 2 years ago a few months after I got saved and its still sticks with me but I cant figure it out.

    DREAM: I was standing in the backyard of my childhood home and looked up into the sky and saw a white church on the clouds the clouds were coloful mostly pink and it was daylight and I looked down to the stairway that led to the bacement(outside enterence to the bacement) and saw a woman standing in the stair well and I knew she was jewish and that I was to minister to her, she did not look jewish she was blond and her hair was pulled back.The next thing scene I looked into the sky again it was night and I saw stars, There was a voice behind me that told me to count them so I tried but they started spinning and dissapeared( but I knew there were seven) then I woke up. thank you and I hope you can help me with this I feel that it is impotant

    • Becca,
      People who God has gifted people to be prophets or have the gift of interpretation of dreams are not the only ones who can interpret dreams. God gives everyone a dream to tell them something. So keep praying for the interpretation and when you are waiting for an answer, don’t go about your busy day, but set aside a time in peace and quiet, waiting on the LORD like the prophets in the bible. It will also bring you closer to God.

      Something I am learning to do myself

  5. Hi Asia,
    sounds like you have learned that Jesus is both your Saviour and Deliverer… He is more powerful than any demonic entity and you have authority as a child of God in His Name. He loves you beyond measure!
    I’m glad you have begun this wonderful journey of faith. Perhaps others who have also experienced the battles you describe will read this and learn that there is freedom in Jesus.
    God wants to redeem every part of our life so that it brings glory to Him – and that includes our dream life. I pray that you will continuer to be strengthened in this area.

  6. Hi Becca, it does sound as though there is some wonderful imagery in your dream. (for example, God spoke to Abraham to count the stars, it spoke of his destiny and inheritance, and 7 stars make an appearance in Revelation chapter one, representing the churches).
    If you do not have the means to interpret the dream right now, write it down, pray about it and continue to meditate on it, store it where you can review it later.
    Like some personal prophecies, prophetic dreams can speak of and make sense later on down the track in God’s timing. When we finally put all the pieces together, it gives us greater reason to praise Him because we realise He has known and planned our lives all along!

    • Thanks Helen! It’s been quite a journey, not always fun though but I love every second if this training.

      I have also recieved healing for a bladder or kidney infection that could have been life threatening. I confessed healing and read healing scriptures and it worked. God healed me. This has been something I have been struggling with. It was never a “is God going to heal me” problem, but a “when”. Glad to say I’m healed and don’t have a problem with confessing anymore.! I’m so excited. Confessing, God’s word. It’s powerful.

  7. Thank you for you thoughts on my dream. I never really thought of the counting of the stars as an image of destiny and inheritance that is very encourging. It is also still very confusing to me but I will continue to pray about it. I dream about my childhood home quite a bit since becomeing a christian do you have any thoughts about this? I had a dream like the one posted above at the same place but I was mowing the grass when I noticed 3 golden crosses in the sky so i went into the house to get my children and pack there diper bag, I remembered the scripture if you are on the roof of your house not to go down to pack a bag so I stoped packing left my children and the bag and went to sit in my car,the next scene of the dream I was sitting in the back seat of my car (in the driveway) my husband was in the drivers seat there was an old girlfried of my brothers curled up in a ball on the front seat(she is not saved and lives a very broken lifestile) and his current girlfriend my mother and I were all in the back seat talking. My brother come up to the car and I went to open the door to let him in but a voise told me to lock him out. any suggestions on this it also is very confusing?

    • Hi Becca, dreams are very personal and for this one, may be best to rest in it and keep a record, rather than concern about a particular interpretation. As far as me giving you a dream interpretation, it’s always a real honour to be asked for a prophetic word or interpretation – it means that you trust me and respect my ability to hear from God. However we have a policy never to give prophecies/interpretations via email or Internet because of our high value regarding accountability, i.e. we believe a prophecy should be given in an accountable environment (e.g. such as in church where there are leaders present). You can read about this here: http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2011/08/17/is-personal-prophecy-biblical/

      But may I encourage you to continue fostering hearing from God yourself in relations to your dreams – try journaling, for example the articles here:
      http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/category/journaling/

      (Also, keep an eye out for a post I will produce in the next few weeks on basics of dream interpretation).

  8. Thank you so much Helen for a large article on my favorite topic. I am a dreamer since years. Hundreds of dreams came true.
    You are a blessing.

  9. Hi, I have had a lot of dreams in the past , many of them have had a demonic element to them, which I rebuked in the name of Jesus. For more than 12 months now I have been an audio version of the Bible next to me while I sleep, since then I hardly have any dreams, any may an occasional demonic type one. The nights I have forgotten to listen to the Word I have had many dreams , some of which have been disturbing.

    Satan doesn’t sleep, we still need to protect ourselves with the word while we sleep. Our spirits are still been fed if the Word of is playing while we are sleeping

  10. I have had dreams for years and have always known some of these were from God. About two years ago the Holy Spirit had me begin to learn about spiritual warfare. I have read and studied for 2 years on the subject learning about different demonic spirits and how to pray. About 6 months ago I had a dream that I knew was from God. I wrote it down in my journal and then forgot about it. Then recently I had a situation happen in my life where the spritual warfare knowledge I had gained was needed and I was able to intercede for someone very close to me. I was seeking counseling from a pastor friend of mine during this time. I had my journal and was taking notes on our session when he mentioned to me he had the gift of dream interpretation. I was able to read the dream to him and he was able to intrepret it and it foretold of the situation that me and my boyfriend were seeing him about for counseling the situation with which the spiritual warefare knowledge had been needed. It was such a confirming and edifying experience for me and reaffirmed for me that God is with me at all times. When the time is right the meaning of your dream will be revealed to you so even if you don’t know what it means rest assured that God did not give you this dream to have you always wonder what it means. It will be revealed to you. God orders our steps when we are completely submitted to Him.

  11. Could you provide more info on the demonic oppression in dreams pls? I really enjoy your blog, it’s a great help. Words can’t explain, continue to allow God to use you, I so do appreciate it.

    • Hi Tia,
      Thank you for leaving a note, I am glad you are finding the blog helpful.
      Apart from the brief answers I have mentioned in the article above, is there a specific question you would like answered about demonic oppression in dreams?

  12. I have never experienced a tangible demonic presence but I do occasionally have dreams in which I cast out demons and often am overcome by fear. However, there have been about 3 occasions in the last year in which I’ve felt extreme unrest as though a great darkness was present. Once when I had became very intrigued by the supernatural realm and asked God to physically manifest himself to me (I quickly learned that this was unbiblical and may have just as well been an invitation for Satan). Another actually, yesterday – I met with a rather new friend who appeared to have a very intimate relationship with The Lord and plenty of spiritual insight. Strange enough, it was with her that my spirit became heavily uneasy. And this same feeling occurs, but less often, during my dreams involving demons and/or the night thereof. I am struggling with the event with my friend because of her apparent zeal for God (though her doctrine on tongues as the mark of the Holy Spirit is not one I have found supported in scripture). I thought maybe there was something present in her room but we ended up at another location, first in public, and then in a secluded area where I was immediately stirred as before. After reading one of your posts on discernment I speculate that it may be my gift. If that is the case am I to expect spiritual attacks of greater magnitude? And what should I make about this particular situation?

  13. Hi Dani, I think that the situation with your friend may be more a call to pray. Sensing something heavy does not necessarily mean you are discerning something about the person (although in some situations it can be the Spirit alerting us to be cautious) but more likely a prophetic call to pray for her.
    I believe prayer should be our first port of call with discernment as we seek Father for more insight about the situation. I also believe that in keeping with God being a Redeemer that the outcomes He intends are good.
    I would say don’t expect greater attacks, instead, expect greater faith and a greater insight into the authority you carry as a Christian.
    I’m very grateful to God that the trials I experienced as a discerner in early years have made way for much growth in faith, in spiritual authority and in knowing Who my God is and who I am in Him. Have you read the discernment articles on the blog? (see categories on the right of this page)
    Hope this helps :-)

  14. I hope it is not too late to ask but I had a disturbing two-night consecutive dream occurence back in August 2011. A friend of mine who I had not seen in decade was wearing a white, dress shirt in this room with gray walls and the first night, the scripture was written on the wall and said “Ephesians 6.” Then, this friend turns into blood quickly on to the floor. The second night, a different scripture, Ezekiel 21:27 with same friend, same shirt and same room. This time, however, a red long chain came out of his right side and tried to grip me, but, I fought it. Then the friend turned into blood again and this time, the blood was all over me—was able to feel the hot blood-gross-disturbed. I literally did not eat for three days in waking life after this 2nd dream. Please help me with whatever interpretation you may have-so much occurred since then and “this friend” is back in my life (but in an out-not so frequent).

  15. Hi Monique, I’m sorry to hear of the difficult dream that you had.
    We have a policy not to give personal prophecies or dream interpretations via the Internet, so I can’t help you in respect to details.
    Dreams usually contain personal elements from the dreamers own life, so it can be helpful to process a disturbing dream personally (especially if it has been a long term concern) with a counselor, or pastor.
    Here’s some info on prayer ministry in case that is helpful:
    http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2012/09/11/prayer-ministry-ideas-and-guidelines/

  16. Greetings Helen!

    About two weeks ago, I dreamt what I believe to be a prophetic dream. Currently, I’m without a spouse/single and childless. In the dream I saw myself in a hospital setting and was given a new baby boy. I thought it was weird because I didn’t see the woman that I had the child with or where the child came from.

    Common knowledge would say that a new baby represents a new beginning, a starting over has begun, breakthrough, deliverance… but is this a message from God about what’s to come in the near future? A breakthrough? Prayers being answered?… Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    Your Bro. in Christ,
    Alex

    • Hi Alex, great dream and question! We are on the road ministering, watch this space and I will get back to you in a couple of days.

    • Hi Alex, that is an exciting prophetic dream – I like the range of meanings that you suggest, and particularly the sense of being entrusted by God with something ‘new.’ Dreams are primarily symbolic in nature, some people take literal meanings from them and then are disappointed when it doesn’t take place exactly as they dreamed, so we believe wisdom is to take a prophetic dream as symbolic and allow God to fulfil it as, and when, He desires. It seems He is preparing you with the dream to increase you and ready you in faith for what He is going to do and give you. Rejoice and receive His anointing for your new season. (Is 54)

      • Greetings again Helen,

        Thanks for your reply and prophetic insights! Believe it or not, I kinda heard something very similar from someone a while ago pertaining to me receiving an increase and fresh anointing. The past couple of days, I’ve been going through spiritual warfare which has brought down my faith level somewhat concerning things that have been spoken to me by God. I’ve come to find out that are ‘soon’ is not God’s ‘soon’ and so, our humanity reacts accordingly…(Abraham & Sarah). I just hope I don’t birth an Ishmael!

        Nevertheless, I’m really glad I got connected to your ministry through Tweeter & your blogs which by the way has been a tremendous blessing to me. The Holy Spirit is truly responsible for this divine connection. I know he’s speaking thourgh you to me! Stay pure and true. Amen.

        Shalom,

        -Alex