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
Dreaming is a natural function of the brain, occurring mainly during the REM stage of sleep. 
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. 
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 and can be powerful when seen in our Father’s redemptive light. They reveal what He designs to heal and turn around. 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,
- 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 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 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. 
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.  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.
 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?
 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.
 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: in the David McCracken Ministries family