Principles for Interpreting Dreams
Do dreams carry meaning? The Bible tells us that dreams DO sometimes carry meaning. So, it is important for us to know how to interpret our dreams and understand what God is communicating. This article gives a simple method for interpreting dreams.
The best way to interpret this dream is to start with the first symbol and try to interpret that. Then go on to the next symbol, and so on. Continually ask the question, “In what way am I experiencing this symbol in my life at this time?”
A Method for Interpreting Dreams in a Group
1. With the group leader presiding over the interaction, interpret two or three dreams using the following approach.
The Key Question Approach Leading to Heart Revelation (guided self-discovery):
a) Write the dreamer’s name on the top right corner of the blackboard so everyone can address him or her by name. Have the dreamer standing or sitting in the front of the room, available to answer questions from the group. (I use this method in my Christian University and Online Bible College classes, thus the reference to a classroom setting. If you are not in such a setting then you can substitute resources that you have at your disposal.)
b) The dreamer reads the dream aloud twice. While the dream is being read, someone writes on a blackboard the key elements and events of the dream, leaving space between each. If no blackboard is present, each member of the group should create a list on a paper for their own reference.
c) Ask the dreamer:
• “What was the key feeling in the dream?”
• “What was the key action in the dream?”
• “In what area of your life are you experiencing these?”
• This will give the dreamer and the group a reference point as to the setting of the dream, and what issue is likely being discussed. The answers to these questions can be listed across the top of the blackboard after the phrases “Key Feeling” and “Key Action.”
d) Beginning with the first event/element of the dream and continuing to the last one, listeners then ask questions like the following:
• What is the dominant trait of that person?
• What emotion does that animal represent to you?
• In what way are you experiencing (the event described in the dream) in your life at this time?
e) If the dreamer cannot come up with an answer to any of the above questions:
• Remind him to relax and tune to flowing thoughts, rather than analytical thoughts, thus moving from his mind to his heart.
• Have the group brainstorm (“heart storm”), offering suggestions of what the item in the dream might mean. These are listed on the board.
• The dreamer then comes to the board and draws a line through the ones that definitely do not ring true in his heart, and circles the ones which his heart leaps to, offering any interpretation God is revealing to him.
2. Break the class into groups of four to six and have them work for two to three hours on dreams of individuals within their groups. Follow the “Rules for Interpreting Dreams in a Group” given above. Instruct the groups to use “The Key Question Approach.” If they need help, they should raise their hand to attract the attention of the classroom leader to come and work with their group.
When the seminar/classroom leader is not assisting a specific group, he should rotate from group to group making sure things are progressing well in each.
Warnings About Dreams and Visions???
1. There are no warnings in the Bible to beware of your own dreams, with the possible exception of Ecclesiastes 5:3,7, which is probably best understood as a reference to “daydreams” since all other references in the Bible to “dreams” are positive. When one verse contradicts many others, you need to seek to understand that one verse in light of the volume of references on the other side of the topic.
2. The only biblical caution concerning dreams, then, is when you are listening to another’s dream. They may be trying to lead you astray, to go after other gods (Jer. 14:14; 23:16,25-27,32; Ezek. 13:1,7; 12:24 Deut. 13:1-5; Jer. 27:9-11; Zec, 10:2).
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Virkler is with Christian Leadership University. CLU is a Christian University and Online Bible College offering Christian education including Christian counseling and Christian theology seminaries and offers certificates, undergrad, Masters, and Doctorates in the various Christian colleges of CLU.