A photo of a person kneeling in prayer, surrounded by rays of sunlight filtering through a dense forest, symbolizing a divine connection and seeking guidance to discern if a dream is from God.

How To Know If A Dream Is From God: A Complete Guide

Dreams can be mysterious, but could your vivid dreams and night visions be divine messages from God? Discerning whether a dream is from the Lord takes wisdom and biblical understanding.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The best ways to know if a dream is from God include testing it against Scripture, looking at the dream’s fruits, analyzing the dream’s symbols biblically, praying for discernment, and understanding natural dreams versus visions.

In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into biblical principles for interpreting dreams, examine case studies, and provide actionable tips to determine if your dream is a message from the Lord or just an ordinary dream.

Examining the Content and Symbols

Look at the Fruits of the Dream

When interpreting a dream to discern if it’s from God, it’s important to examine the content and symbols. Start by looking at the overall message and “fruits” of the dream. Does the dream encourage positive virtues like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Or does it provoke sinful desires and actions? Godly dreams will produce godly fruit in your life (Galatians 5:22-23). Analyze the motives and themes – do they align with God’s principles in Scripture or go against them?

Test Everything Against Scripture

The Bible says to “test everything and hold fast to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Use discernment to compare the symbols and messages of the dream to Scripture. Does it contradict or twist God’s Word in any way? If so, reject it.

But if the dream’s contents promote biblical truths and righteous living, it may very well be from the Lord. Ask God for discernment as you filter the dream through the truth of His Word.

Analyze Symbolic Images Biblically

Dreams often contain symbolic imagery that requires interpretation. Look up the biblical meanings of symbols you saw in the dream rather than relying solely on secular dream dictionaries. For example, lions often represent Jesus or the devil depending on the context (1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 5:5).

Analyze the symbols in light of Scripture and godly wisdom, taking note of any verses or themes that come to mind. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His intended meaning of the symbols. He will grant understanding if the dream is truly from Him.

Using Discernment and Prayer

Ask God for Discernment

Discerning whether a dream is from God begins with asking God for wisdom and understanding. As James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Bring your dream before God in prayer and ask Him to reveal if it was sent by Him or if it was simply a product of your subconscious mind. Ask for an interpretation if it was from Him. Be patient and trust that God will provide clarity in His perfect timing.

As you pray, examine the content and tone of the dream. Does it align with God’s Word and His character? For example, if you had an ominous or disturbing dream that caused you to fear, that likely did not originate from God.

As 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a strong mind.” Pray for God’s peace that surpasses understanding.

Pray Over the Dream’s Meaning

If you discern a dream is from God, pray over its meaning by meditating on any symbols, numbers, people, or events that appeared. Ask God to illuminate what message or revelation He wishes to convey. As Genesis 40 shows through Joseph’s God-given ability to interpret dreams, symbols often represent deeper spiritual truths.

You can also pray over the dream’s timing. Did God send you this meaningful dream during a season when you especially needed direction or encouragement? Spend time listening closely for His still, small voice to better grasp why He chose to speak to you through a dream at this specific point in your life.

Finally, pray for wisdom on any action God might want you to take in response to the dream. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). God may be prompting important changes through the revelation He gave you.

Understanding the Difference Between Dreams and Visions

Natural Dreams vs. Symbolic Dreams

There is an important distinction between natural dreams that come from our subconscious versus symbolic dreams that may have a divine origin. Natural dreams are more random and involve processing our daily experiences and emotions. They tend to be fragmented and not make much sense.

Symbolic dreams often have a clearer storyline and convey spiritual meaning or insight through the use of metaphors, symbols, and archetypes.

For example, dreaming about something traumatic from your childhood or a heated argument you had during the day would be considered a natural dream. Your mind is working through unresolved issues while you sleep.

On the other hand, having a vivid dream where you talk with a wise spiritual guide or see your deceased grandmother assuring you that everything will be okay points to a symbolic dream experience. This type of dream, especially if it leaves you with a profound sense of peace or understanding upon awakening, could indicate divine revelation or guidance.

Visions Often Have a Stronger Supernatural Sense

Visions differ from symbolic dreams in that they usually happen when one is awake, and there is a stronger supernatural sense surrounding them. There tends to be little doubt about the divine origin of a vision. They also feel more concrete and substantial than even the most vivid dream.

Many people in the Bible experienced powerful visions of angels, future events, or heavenly realms. The content of these visions guided them or conveyed what God wanted to reveal. Similarly, contemporary reports of visions describe such extraordinary content and clarity that they profoundly impact individuals by confirming divine love or plans.

Unlike confusing symbolic dreams that require interpretation, biblical visions brought immediate spiritual understanding to recipients like Daniel and John.

Biblical Examples of Dreams and Visions from God

Jacob’s Ladder

One of the most famous dream visions in the Bible is Jacob’s dream of a ladder reaching to heaven in Genesis 28. As Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau, he stopped to rest and had a dream where he saw a ladder set up on earth and reaching to heaven.

On the ladder, Jacob saw angels ascending and descending. At the top of the ladder stood God, who spoke to Jacob and made promises of land, prosperity, and offspring. When Jacob awoke, he recognized the dream as a divine revelation and called the place “Bethel” or “house of God.”

This dream vision established Jacob’s covenant with God and set the course for the future nation of Israel.

Joseph’s Dreams

Joseph, son of Jacob, received several prophetic dreams from God foretelling his future reign and sovereignty. As a young man, Joseph had two dreams which he told to his brothers. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers were binding sheaves in a field when Joseph’s sheaf rose up while his brothers sheaves bowed down.

In the second dream, the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to Joseph. These dreams symbolized Joseph’s eventual rise over his brothers and even his parents. While his brothers became jealous and sold Joseph into slavery, the dreams eventually came true when Joseph became ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.

Joseph’s God-given dreams guided and sustained him through many trials.

Daniel Interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a disturbing dream that none of his counselors could interpret. God revealed the meaning to Daniel, who explained that Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed of a large statue made of various metals.

A rock “not cut by human hands” struck the feet of clay and iron and smashed the entire statue. Daniel interpreted this to represent the rise and fall of future kingdoms, culminating in the eternal kingdom of God destroying and replacing all earthly ones.

Daniel’s God-given interpretation of the dream allowed him to rise in Nebuchadnezzar’s court and proved his prophetic abilities.

Acting Wisely on Dreams from the Lord

Don’t Make Major Decisions Based on One Dream

While dreams from God can provide guidance, it’s generally not wise to make major life decisions based solely on the content of one dream. God may use dreams to plant ideas in our hearts, but major decisions should be confirmed through prayer, counsel from mature believers, and testing against Scripture.

Talk to Mature Believers

Get input from spiritually mature and discerning Christians about any dreams you think might be from the Lord. They can help you interpret symbolism and determine if a dream aligns with biblical principles.

Bouncing ideas off others guards against making impulsive decisions and prevents being led astray by dreams that stem from our own subconscious rather than the Spirit.

Confirm Prophetic Dreams with Scripture and Prayer

Measure any dream against the truth of God’s Word. If a dream conflicts with Scripture, you can discard it. Also seek the Lord in prayerful discernment. Ask Him to confirm prophetic dreams and to guide your response.

As 1 John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”


Discerning if a dream is from God takes spiritual maturity, biblical evaluation, and prayerful reflection. While not all dreams are divine messages, God can and still does speak through night visions today.

By testing dreams, interpreting symbols biblically, and seeking godly counsel, you can determine if your dreams align with God’s truth and purpose for your life.

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