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There are many types of dreams and many ways we might describe or refer to our dreams. But, in my view, there are seven Biblical categories that all of our dreams fit into. I base these categories on two key scripture passages and I find support them through many years of experience.
I don’t think we need to get overly focused on defining the category of the dreams we have—it’s understanding the message that’s important. However, seeing some definition to the categories of our dreams does help us gain a better understanding of how God works through them.
“For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.” Job 33:14-18 ESV
“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.” Psalm 16:7 ESV
The first four categories are God-dreams and are very straightforward and self-explanatory.
God opens our ears to His voice through our dreams. He speaks to us and interacts with us for love and fellowship, for blessing and comfort, to release gifts into our lives, and to give us confidence and boldness, among many other things.
God will also warn, convict, and correct us through our dreams. This may be something very practical for our lives here and now, or it may be foretelling as well.
Through dreams, God may turn us aside to give us clear direction; to change or direct our focus and action. He leads us in paths of righteousness and directs our steps.
God may counsel us concerning ourselves, other people, or situations we are dealing with or will soon face. God-given counsel through dreams leads us to humility, knowing that He is the Almighty, our counsel and help in time of need.
Most dreams, for most people, most of the time, fall into the last three categories and are usually a purely natural function. What I mean by that is that dreams in these categories are not normally God-dreams. They may require a little more explanation.
We have dreams like this for emotional balance, to reset ourselves, to rejuvenate our soul. They are just a natural and normal part of life. Many of these dreams are what people often call “pizza” or “junk” dreams. They’re typically full of nonsense and without any deep meaning. It’s simply one way we naturally work out the things that are on our hearts and minds, face things that we’re dealing with, and purge things from our day. They may also be “warfare” dreams because we are forced to deal with the things we are facing. It’s through these dreams that our spirit works to take dominion in every area of our personal lives.
We all dream whether we remember it or not because, as I already said, it is a natural and normal part of life. It’s necessary for personal balance and physical health. Dreams are an integral and inseparable part of rest and deep sleep. In a purely natural sense, we need to dream to live. On the other hand, some dreams also release the Word of God into us, which is life-giving. His very Word is life! So when He speaks to us in our dreams, He imparts life to us.
The last category of dreams is self-instruction. God created us in such a way that our human spirit is more aware than our head is—and it instructs us. Our own heart often works to balance out our extremes and blind spots, informing us of things that we may not be consciously aware of or of things that we may have deliberately ignored or suppressed. In other words, dreams in this category may indicate a need to embrace truth that our heart knows but our head refuses to acknowledge, revealing inner conflicts, disillusionments, or resistance to truth within. I also believe that our God-given conscious influences us to make right choices in our dreams, similar to the way it works to influence us while we are awake.