Dreams are an offshoot of the conscious mind.
Well, usually, it seems that way.
After one keeps a dream journal for a couple of months, it’s obvious. Day-to-day life inspires dreams. Some dreams are replays of your daily life. Others are full of symbolism, reflecting the issues you’re contending with.
Sometimes your subconscious is urging you to take care of a problem. That’s fine, but it’s really great when it provides a solution!
Dreams work the same in Christians as they do in agnostics or atheists. We’re all human.
When it comes to dream interpretation and the Christian, however, the lens changes. Sermons, tradition, church, biblical analogies, and other aspects of faith inform the Christian lens through which the subconscious generates dreams.
We should say here that usually it’s the subconscious generating dreams. Sometimes it can seem like dreams are communications from outside our mind, especially when we start to understand or learn things that we had no way of knowing.
What is Christian dream interpretation?
It is a process of reconciling waking life, dreams, and goals with a relationship with God.
Ideally, the process leads to practical action on Christian ideals.
What are some Christian ideals represented in dreams?
It’s worth understanding what we mean by “Christian.” Since dreams pertain to an individual and “Christian” pertains to a group, the difference between the two states need to be reconciled. Two somewhat different groups of people go by that name.
For our purposes related to Christian dream interpretation, there are two basic types of Christians. Denomination doesn’t really matter because everyone has dreams.
For cultural Christians in the United States and in western nations, life is tied to events scattered throughout the year. Christmas and Easter occupy days of preparation. Thanksgiving, a Christian-inspired holiday, comes with the idea one should give thanks for the good things in life. Mardi Gras started as a day of indulgence that kicked off a season of fasting and penance. The cultural Christian doesn’t participate in the part emphasizing fasting and sacrifice, for example. Their participation in anything having to do with their professed faith is less.
People consider cultural Christians to be Christian. The impact of Christian teaching on the way they live their lives is less than that of the next group. They are more secular in orientation.
The devout Christian is one who goes to services on Sunday, listens to Christian-themed podcasts, and reads spiritual literature wants to apply those ideals to their life. Otherwise, why bother to do those things? It’s surely not to be held in greater esteem as being Christian is sometimes seen as a negative. This desire can be reflected in dreams.
For example, consider a devout Christian who’s been wronged. She or he is angry. Getting revenge on the one who wronged them seems like it would feel good and righteous.
Vengeance would seem so sweet.
Killing the other person might even seem reasonable if they’re mad enough.
Of course, that directly conflicts with the idea that we should love the other person as we love ourselves. Jesus taught that we’re actually supposed to go above and beyond for our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). He says God will take care of vengeance for us.
Anyone who’s been mad enough knows that’s sometimes easier said than done!
There is a saying: “Love your friends and hate your enemies.” But I say, “Love your enemies!” Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in Heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how is that different from anyone else? Even the heathen does that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.
How about forgiveness?
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No!” Jesus replied. “Seventy times seven!” Matthew 18: 21-22
This will cause a quandary. One struggles. Between the facts of the matter and what they’ve read in the Bible, instinct, and sermons. Let too many things go, and people will think you’re weak.
Jesus’ dictates about forgiveness seem to contradict pithy sayings like “the best defense is a strong offense.”
Or even plain proportionality: an eye for an eye.
The devout Christian goes through life trying to figure it out. He or she has to deal with temptation, human nature, and getting to know God.
Dreams are part of this process. They’re part of life, always reflective of the struggles the Christian faces.
Christians, due to their human nature, struggle with sin.
Sin is a transgression of the law of God.
Another way to describe sin is as an action interfering with a relationship with God.
The Seven Deadly Sins summarize the most common, major sins: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and laziness. The Ten Commandments is another such list.
Then there are the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity). Also, the four cardinal virtues: are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.
Incorporating these ideas into life is what the Christian dream interpretation practitioner does.
Dreams form part of the relationship they have. Contending with sin is part of maintaining that relationship on good terms.
How does prayer before sleep influence Christian dream interpretation?
Prayer at bedtime is a good idea for any Christian, regardless of denomination. It’s a convenient way to talk to God and get yourself in a healthier frame of mind before going to sleep.
According to Carrell Jamilano, there are five basic types of prayers:
For many who haven’t studied prayer mechanics, it can be eye-opening to consider the different forms it can take. Reading the Bible and reflecting upon the word can be a form of prayer.
Focusing allows a Christian to be receptive toward hearing the voice of God within dreams.
How can one get guidance with Christian dream interpretation?
One way is by having a guided dream, a form of dream incubation.
1. Get clear about what it is that you’re struggling with.
If it’s an especially onerous problem, it’s a good idea to write about it in your journal. Writing your thoughts down forces you to put nebulous feelings and thoughts into words where they can be dealt with. Utilize techniques like listing the pros and cons of the issue you’re struggling with. Try to understand the issues in light of your long- and short-term goals. Figure out what’s in your control and what isn’t. The things that aren’t in your control are in God’s hands.
2. Boil your question down into one sentence.
It’s best to start with your most pressing question if you have more than one. It’s best to think of guided dreams as conversations with your subconscious or spirit guide.
Write your question down at the top of your blank journal page.
Would Phil make a good husband?
Should I look for a new job?
Should I start the new project that I have in mind?
Would it be a good idea to move?
3. Pray before you go to sleep.
This is important. Use one of the methods described above and have a conversation with God. Read the Bible. Ask for a dream that will help clear up the dilemma you’re facing.
4. Be ready to write down one or more dreams at night.
As always, it’s best to follow the SOM format and the PACTREPS mnemonic. Follow the rest of the Dream Recovery System, like keeping your dream journal by your bedside and wearing a bracelet to help you to differentiate between your dreams and waking life.
Sometimes I’ve had no dreams after doing this; other times, I’ve had up to five relating to the same issue. Four times in five, I’ve had at least one that clarifies some issue relating to my question or offers encouragement in some way.
I refer to this as a guided dream; by following the steps above, you ask the Holy Spirit for help.
By praying and reading the Bible, you’re trying to get on the same wavelength as God. You’re trying to ground yourself in his Word, bringing the Gospel to the forefront of your mind. This is absolutely vital. Whether or not you believe in the Devil or demons doesn’t matter. They exist. When He created the Universe, He gifted his creation with free will. Not everything chose His way. Step 3 is absolutely vital to the use of guided dreaming.
Does one have to use guided dreams to receive help from Christian dream interpretation?
No. It’s more a way of focusing your thoughts and, so, your prayers. When you go to sleep and dream, the question at the top of the page reminds you of what was on your mind when you went to bed and what you were considering. Christian dream interpretation just refers to the process of seeing the events of your dream through a faith-filled lens.
What are some other tips for guided dreams?
Do you like being asked the same question repeatedly in different ways? Of course not. It’s irritating. Rather than do that, emphasize trying to understand the symbols and meaning of the dreams you do have. Asking one well-thought-out question per topic is best.
Asking related follow-up questions is fine.
Christian dream interpretation is like so many other things: confidence (faith) is key.
What would it be like if you were trying to learn to skateboard without confidence?
You’d stick close to a wall, continually hanging on, afraid of falling off the board.
That’s no fun—though skateboarding is fun. By acting like that, you’d be depriving yourself of the fun.
Christian dream interpretation, and guided dreams, are also fun, though a lot more serious than skateboarding.
It’s intimidating, too. On one hand, the dreams can be so on point, so on target, it removes all doubt in your mind there’s a God up there who’s watching you and who loves you. On the other hand, that’s comforting too.
Have you tried Christian dream interpretation? Guided dreams? What’s been your experience?
For further reading:
James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their sleep health and maximize their quality of life.
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