Dreams and visions work in many ways like parables. They allow for lots of ideas to fit into a compact image. The image can then be “unpacked” into words in the interpretation even though words may not have been in the dream at all. Usually I tend to see and then hear a voice explaining what I am seeing in my dream. Because pictures can be symbolic, there are often many ways one could interpret them, but usually God is intending something very specific. So if we do not hear an explanation, we need to ask Him what the meaning is, not try to figure it out.
These dreams usually happen while I am asleep, though I have had visions while praying intensely too. For me, when I am asleep and dreaming a dream that is from God, I usually know it right off or shortly after it has started. There is an awareness while I am sleeping that I am supposed to pay attention and make note of what I am seeing. I ask questions about what I am seeing while I am dreaming and then I hear God answer. Sometimes the dreams are interactive and I talk with or hear from Jesus directly. And then when it is ending there is usually a command to “write it all down.” Sometimes if I wake up and can’t remember, I will have the dream again later. I usually share these with people in our local body of believers that know me well so they can pray and confirm they are in alignment with scripture and the Spirit before I share them publicly. I add in the scripture that supports it (sometimes members of our local church body help with scriptures).
You should never accept a prophetic word or dream from anyone without testing it yourself against scripture and the Holy Spirit. If you know the prophet, test the fruit of their life as well. But don’t assume just because you know the person that the dream or prophecy is from God. You do not know for sure what source they are drawing from, so be careful (Matthew 7:15-20). Always test with scripture, and the Spirit, and other believers who know and love the Bible (1 John 4:1).
If you desire the spiritual gift of prophecy, you can ask Him for it (1 Corinthians 14:1). Though it requires a lot of boldness to operate in prophetic gifts, it’s actually really cool most of the time, and it’s biblical (Joseph, Daniel, Abraham, Isaiah, Nahum, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Samuel, Laban, Abimelech, Solomon, Ezekiel, Mary and Joseph, Peter, Paul, John the Revelator, among many others). Dreams are a way to receive and understand prophecy (yes, the kind the the Holy Spirit still gives and will give until completeness has come and we see Jesus face to face–see Amos 3:17, Joel 2:2. Acts 13:1, Acts 19:1-6, 1 Corinthians 14:1-5, Ephesians 4:11-14).
Also, if you have any fear of man in you, obeying God by operating in this gift will knock that right out of you because you will lose a lot of friends and people will think you’re strange, but that’s ok. He’s very worth it. And if you think people with the gift of prophecy are arrogant, well, think again. We are the ones most aware of our insecurities, our lack of faith, and our shortcomings. Maybe that’s why God feels ok actually choosing us. Generally, we think it’s a bad idea. But one thing we have going for us is a love for and trust in God that outweighs our own reputation. We gave that up when we decided to serve Him in this gift. Though some prophets become tempted to fame and fortune, many true prophets remain active in the church, humbly serving the body of Christ. And they mean you no harm. You can be friends with them. And, if you can put up with them being distracted by God a lot, you should be friends with them. Because being a prophet is really lonely. But it’s worth it. Jesus is so worth it. Wake the Bride.
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your elders will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29)
More on prophecy later…
Here are the two dreams/visions I have shared here so far:
Sleeping bride September, 2020
Message for the church March, 2020