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 (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.

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 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

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.


[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.

Related Posts:

3 Tips About Bad Dreams, Prophetic Warnings and Nightmares
9 Bible Promises Concerning Your Sleep, Dreams and Night Hours

© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

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

Two Prophetic Dreams, One Message: Take Your Spiritual Gifts Off The Shelf

Yesterday I had a dream in which my husband gave me the funds to make a purchase. I knew this transaction was of tremendous importance to him. I handechain and heart pendantd the money across the counter to a merchant, who passed two large, valuable pendants to me.

I glanced down and saw that one was gold; the other was heart-shaped and silver, with filigreed gold edging. Both were intricately designed.

At that moment, I woke up. I felt I had been in a prophetic dream, and that in the dream my husband represented Jesus. There was something about the pendants that stirred up a spiritual hunger in me.

It was then that I realised it was the second spiritual dream I had received in the space of a month—both ending in a similar way.

Prophetic Dream about a Gold Necklace

In an earlier dream, I was visiting a retirement home, along with other staff members from my church. Whilst we were there, I suddenly realised that a woman called Ruth Young was living in the home.

The Hunk and I hosted Ruth and her husband over 20 years ago in New Zealand, early in our missions ministry. We saw something close to revival in the churches they ministered in. Their testimony about sacrificial love and service for Jesus caused many Christians to hunger, repent and recommit their lives to Jesus.

In the dream, I went looking for Ruth, and found her in one of the rooms. We sat at a table together and talked. As we conversed, she was showing me jewellery that she was crafting. She left and went into another room. I desperately wanted to see her again, but she had gone, leaving the gold necklace she had been showing me on the table in front of me.

At this point, I woke up. Along with a heightened sense of God’s presence, I felt deeply the unfinished business of my dream’s meeting with ‘Ruth.’

Discovering Meaning in the Dreams

Meditating upon the meaning of this earlier dream, I felt that Ruth represented the message she had carried: passion for Jesus. It seemed that the Lord was saying He wanted us to take that ‘first love’ we had known for Jesus out of retirement.

But I hadn’t considered the jewellery until the second dream yesterday. When it finally smacked me on the head last night, I went looking for a book on dream interpretation. I wanted to find out the significance of jewellery—particularly necklaces.

As I searched for an entry on the meaning of the jewellery, the following words stood out to me: ‘treasure,’ ‘desire,’ ‘precious,’ ‘God’s gifts’.

Spiritual Gifts

Could the pendants and necklace in the dream have something to do with spiritual gifts? My dawning awareness of the message the Holy Spirit was bringing through the two dreams was bringing with it a growing sense of conviction.

God in His love has lavished spiritual gifts upon us, His church (see Romans 12:6, 1 Cor 12-14, Eph 4:8, Heb 2:4).

It honours Him when we ‘wear ‘our spiritual gifts, when we treasure them and display them, when we use them to bless others. In using our spiritual gifts, people see something in our lives that can only be explained by Jesus. Spiritual gifts display the craftsmanship of the Holy Spirit.

Do we have spiritual gifts that need to be taken off the shelf?

I have a small collection of jewellery, including some special pieces given to me by those I love. However, I wear very little of it, and much of my jewellery stays in the drawer. I have a pendant given to me by a dear friend that is gathering dust on a table.

My attitude towards the spiritual gifts God has given me has been similar to the attitude that I have about jewellery.

Most of the time, I keep the gifts God has given me of prophecy, discernment, intercession and others, hidden away. I have even started to take them for granted, no longer prizing them or valuing them as I did in the early days.

I do bring spiritual gifts out at times when I believe they are useful—usually in church meetings. But I do not walk in them. Perhaps I have felt that a good Christian should not ‘show off’ spiritual gifts, especially those that are supernatural in manifestation. But it is likely that my so-called ‘humility’ has masked apathy, fear, unbelief and pride.

Here is another thought that is challenging me today:

An attitude of apathy towards our spiritual gifts also betrays a lack in our appreciation of the Giver.

In Jer 2:32, God says, ‘Does a maiden forget her jewellery, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.’

The dreams have come at a time when I am working through a process of spiritual renewal. I am challenged to review my attitude towards the gifts God has given me. Perhaps this is an area the Holy Spirit is challenging you in, too.

Jesus said, ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.’ (Matt 5:15-16)

**You may have some more ideas about the topic of spiritual gifts or the interpretation of these dreams. If you do, I would love to hear from you! Please leave your comments in the boxes below—if the comments area is not visible, click on the blog post title and scroll down.

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Related posts:

4 Types of Dreams And Their Meanings

Hunger For God: 6 Ways You Can Stir It Up

What To Do When You Have a Prophetic Dream

How Do I Know A Personal Prophecy or Dream Interpretation is From God?

© Helen Calder   Enliven Blog