Tuning In Part 6: The power of dreams.
Over the last few years I’ve led many workshops and seminars on hearing God’s voice and the prophetic gifts, and I always include plenty of opportunities for people to practice and have a go. We create a safe place to listen for God’s voice through scripture, pictures, words and senses. But the one form of prophetic revelation that we can’t (realistically) practice in a workshop is prophetic dreams!
Of course the Bible is full of stories of dreams: from Jacob’s dream at Bethel and Joseph’s dreams about his future destiny, to God warning Jesus’ parents, and Paul’s missionary call to Europe. God clearly speaks through dreams. In fact the great Pentecost promise includes prophecies, dreams and visions as the Spirit is poured out on God’s people.
To be honest, I think there is a lot of unhelpful information out there about prophetic dreams, so we have to be careful in our approach, especially in recognising that the majority of dreams are simply our brains processing information. But essentially we handle prophetic dreams in the same way we handle all types of prophetic experiences: we weigh them carefully, we ask the Holy Spirit what the interpretation is, and then we prayerfully and accountably work out what our response needs to be.
Dreams are similar to prophetic visions and pictures in that they are full of symbolism and visual imagery, which is why we have to be cautious with the interpretation and not jump to conclusions. We can only receive interpretation through revelation given by the Holy Spirit, so if you think God has given you a prophetic dream ask him what it means – and then ask him what his purpose is in giving you the dream. Remember: God always speaks for a purpose and he looks for a response.
If you want to have more prophetic dreams, then ask God for them! Find someone you know who hears God through dreams and get them to pray for you. And get in the habit of committing your sleep to the Lord each night as you go to bed, inviting the Holy Spirit to minister and speak to you.
This concludes our exploration of some of the most common ways we can hear God’s voice. We’ve looked at scripture, seeing, hearing, sensing and dreams. But of course God can use anything to get our attention and communicate with us, and he wants us to be able to hear him wherever we are, whether that is at home, work or play.
God has designed us for community and it’s important to recognise that the best context for hearing God, and working out what to do in response, is usually found in our faith communities. Community is the crucial lens through which we must always view prophetic gifts. As we look at the New Testament model of hearing God and prophecy we see that its true home is the vibrant community of God’s people. It’s together that we are best placed to listen, weigh and respond to the wonders of God’s spoken word to us. So as we pause to consider what rhythms and practices will help us to develop a listening lifestyle, let’s choose to do this with others.