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 a balanced Biblical viewpoint lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

4 Types of Dreams and Their Meanings

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

4 Types of DreamsDreaming 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 (Abimilek, 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)

My husband Malcolm (aka ‘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.

The Bible contains many promises that God will bless our sleep and dream life.

So, 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, 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 and can be powerful when seen in our Father’s redemptive light. They also reveal what He designs to heal and turn around. And furthermore, they provide solutions—because they shine a light on underlying problems.

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,
  • In order to pray effectively and
  • For the purpose of exposing the 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 in Dreams

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 the occult (personally or generationally), for example, may be vulnerable in this area. But bad dreams and nightmares can be redeemed and overcome.

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 Dreams

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 one that you are concerned about—no matter what type of dream it is—share it with someone you trust and pray about it.



[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?

Prophetic Dreams: 11 Tips to Discover the Meaning of Your Dream

[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] If you are having discernment-type dreams this article may be helpful: 8 Signs You May Have The Spiritual Gift Of Discernment.

© Helen Calder,  Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

Enliven Ministries: Prophetic Ministry for a Revival Generation

63 thoughts on “Dreams: 4 Types Of Dreams And Their Meanings”

  1. malcolm Calder

    Awesome Helen. A very very exciting side of our supernatural Christianity.

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. Hi everybody, I am busy with ministry for a few days, will respond to comments later. Keep them coming 🙂

  5. 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

    1. 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

      1. same thing happened to me.
        But my dream was defrent.
        But i heard voice in dream not from men there is no one but still tye voice said something to .

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