How To Understand Your Prophetic Dream

Can your dreams foretell the future?

If they can, how do you know when a dream is prophetic or precognitive—or just a reflection of your subconscious thoughts?

Why would prophetic dreams be limited to St. Joseph, Edgar Cayce, and a few special other people? Why couldn’t you and I have prophetic dreams too?

Great questions!

I have no experience in being a prophet. I do, however, have a lot of experience with studying and trying to understand dreams. I’ve had all kinds of dreams. I especially have had dreams that leave me scratching my head in wonderment years later. I can’t tell you what to think about your visions and dreams. Whatever I had to say about that wouldn’t necessarily be valid. I can, however, provide some perspective.

Most of us get caught up in the physical world

This is hard to avoid. We are, after all, physical creatures living in a physical plane.

This runs contrary to the experience of dreams. For most of us, dreams are the ultimate non-physical experience in our lives.

Dreams are an independent experience.

There’s no movie generated of dreams. There’s no automatic written record. You can’t take your dream over to someone and have them see every last feature of your dream. You can’t even, really, have them interpret it for you.

A prophetic dream will be different than other dreams. You’ll have a feeling that, whatever it’s about, it pertains to the future. Typically it’ll be very vivid. You’ll get the feeling that you should see it literally, not figuratively.

In fact, with dreams, you’re always evaluating them on instinct. This can make you uncomfortable because if you’ve had one of those dreams, you can’t shake the feeling that it might be a mistake.


The fact is, for many, the subconscious is great at putting together insights as to what threats potentially confront you. The utility of this is not to be underestimated.

In dreams, you can take disparate information and then ask, “What’s the next logical event?”

It’s natural to ask this question.

So natural, in fact, that we sometimes won’t ask it when our subconscious mind is creating a dream scenario.

When the subconscious mind does this, we have to make sure that the conscious mind follows up with: “What are the chances of this happening?”

Prophetic dreams are often gloomy

Doom and gloom is pretty much par for the course.

In the 80s, I had a series of seemingly prophetic dreams about life after a nuclear war. I had finished reading Warday by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka. The dreams scared the hell out of me!  I had them for almost a week.

(I think novels can be scarier than movies. Little details in books can be very believable. When I had the dreams, the Berlin Wall still hadn’t come down.)

It’s important to realize there is a chance of nuclear war. The future isn’t set. The dreams could have prepared me with a better chance to survive. But realize this: it’s not for a good reason that they say plans are the first thing that doesn’t survive contact with the enemy.

It’s fair to ask yourself what inspired your dream. If it was a movie, a book, a conversation with a friend, or an experience, it’s fair to say that it’s not a divine or mysterious prophecy.

And that doesn’t mean the dream is useless. If it’s preparing you to confront something, it’s good. You should be prepared for likely difficulties. It’s just not what most would call prophecy.

How’s your relationship with God?

If you’re making an effort to reach out to Him, to understand Him, you’re going to be closer to God than someone who doesn’t.

Dreams, visions, and prophecies don’t always come from God. Mankind has been well aware pretty much from the beginning that there’s a force that exists that wants to drag us down and make us pathetic. You can call it the Devil or whatever you want.

If you stay with God. If you practice self-discipline. If you do your best to conform your will to His, you’re unlikely to fall into the other guy’s traps. That’s the essential takeaway from the story of the Garden of Eden and many other stories with bad endings throughout time.

Prophecy is a gift from God. Fake prophecy is a curse from the other guy designed to make you suffer or to do something that’s not in your best interests.

Details, Details, Details

That’s what you need from your would-be prophetic dream.

Don’t put too much stock in a dream that tells you, you should play the lottery unless it gives you the exact numbers to play. In that case, it’s a small bet and probably not out of your means to buy a ticket. You have little to lose.

Ignore the dream that tells you to buy lots of tickets.

Nameless, faceless dread: ignore it. It’s probably anxiety.

Facing danger from a man wearing a blue bandana and a pink carnation? Pay attention if you see someone like that during the course of the day.

It’s all in the details. Plenty of bad things happen out of the blue with no warning. Living with nameless, vague dread is no way to live.


James Cobb, RN, MSN is the founder of the Dream Recovery System, a blog dedicated to helping everyone sleep better and better understand their dreams.

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There's gold (figurative) in your dreams.
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