What are spiritual dreams? Some communications from God come as spiritual dreams or visions while we sleep (1 Nephi 8:2)
On the other hand, most other dreams consist of random images, thoughts, sounds, or emotions. Spiritual dreams may offer comfort, insight, warning and revelation while random dreams may be sources of fear, confusion or nonsense.
As with all forms of inspired communication, God is both the author of the message of spiritual and the provider of the interpretation. He conveys spiritual dreams to us through the Holy Ghost.
We can know if a dream is an inspired message from God by asking for and receiving a spiritual confirmation through prayer. This confirmation often comes simultaneously as a warm feeling of peace in the heart and as an intellectual enlightenment in the mind (D&C 8:2-3). Without inspired interpretation and confirmation, dreams from God would be confusing and useless.
A Test to Prove Spiritual Dreams
An ancient American prophet outlined a test that we can apply to dreams to ascertain their origin.
Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin and to do that which is evil continually (Moroni 7:12).
A dream that feels dark, nonsensical, confusing or troubling is not from God. These kinds of dreams can originate with Satan or from our own imagination.
On the other hand, spiritual dreams from the Holy Ghost are enlightening, informative, protective and sometimes prophetic. The message of spiritual dreams become clearer as we pray for interpretation and further knowledge. Then as we follow the message in these spiritual dreams, we will find that our lives become better and/or safer.
Varieties of Spiritual Dreams
Spiritual dreams are only one way that God communicates with us through the Holy Ghost. Spiritual dreams are akin to having a vision. One ancient prophet explained, “Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision” (1 Nephi 8:2).
We receive spiritual dreams because we believe in God and his willingness to communicate with us. Spiritual dreams “are the fruit of faith” (“Dreams,” MD, 208).
The Bible informs us that spiritual dreams from God are not given to people who have denied the faith (1 Samuel 28:6, 15).
Ultimately, spiritual dreams are gifts that come to us from God through the Holy Ghost. Here is a scriptural list of at least five ways that God communicates with us through spiritual dreams:
- Spiritual Dreams can foretell future events in our lives (Genesis 37:5; 40:5, 8; 41:15).
- The Lord can appear to us in spiritual dreams (Genesis 28:10-22; 31:24; 1 Kings 3:5; 1 Nephi 2:1-2; 3:2).
- Angels can appear and minister to us in spiritual dreams (Genesis 31:11; Matthew 1:20; 2:13, 19).
- Prophetic warnings can be given to us in spiritual dreams (Ether 9:3).
- Symbolic representations portrayed in spiritual dreams teach us marvelous truths (1 Nephi 8; 9; 10; 15:21).
Scriptural Examples of Spiritual Dreams
The Lord has often used spiritual dreams as a way to communicate with his children. The scriptures are filled with accounts of spiritual dreams that God gave to rulers, prophets and faithful individuals. Here are a few examples:
Joseph and his spiritual dreams.
One of the most compelling accounts of spiritual dreams as a source of divine communication is that of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. As a youth, Joseph received two spiritual dreams that foretold his immediate destiny.
The first spiritual dream portrayed Joseph and his brothers binding sheaves of wheat in a field. In the spiritual dream, each brother’s sheaf bowed to Joseph’s sheaf. In the second spiritual dream, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed to Joseph.
Because of his spiritual dreams, Joseph was hated by his brothers, who overpowered him and sold him as a slave into Egypt. After many years, Joseph’s spiritual dreams proved prophetic. Rising from prisoner to prince, Joseph was now in charge of all the wheat in Egypt.
When a devastating famine gripped the regions, Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt to buy grain. As predicted in Joseph’s spiritual dreams, Joseph’s brothers bowed before him (Genesis 37:7-9).
Nebuchadnezzar and his spiritual dream.
King Nebuchadnezzar received a spiritual dream about an image that was made of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay. In the spiritual dream, a stone that was cut out from a mountain without hands. As this stone rolled down the mountain, it destroyed the image, and eventually the stone filled the entire earth.
The interpretation of the dream came through the prophet Daniel, who taught the king the latter-day kingdom of God would be like the great stone. Symbolically, it would be cut from a mountain without “hands,” meaning man’s hands. Rather, God’s hands would create it and send it rolling.
Eventually, according to the spiritual dream, that stone, meaning the kingdom of God, would fill the entire earth in the latter-days (Daniel 2-4).
Joseph, the carpenter, and his spiritual dreams.
Some of the most important spiritual dreams came to Joseph, who was directed to take Mary as his wife, flee Judea to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, then return to Judea once King Herod had died (Matthew 1:20-20-24; 2:13, 19).
These spiritual dreams were visionary, instructive and prophetic. They saved the infant Jesus, along with his parents.
Spiritual Dreams in Modern Times
Modern prophets and church leaders have testified of the power of spiritual dreams. Elder George F. Richards, a modern-day apostle, recorded a spiritual dream in which he stood in the presence of the Savior. As a result of that dream his testimony of the love and power of Jesus Christ was strengthened.
He rededicated himself to living the laws of God and doing all he could to advancing the cause of the gospel. Here is an excerpt from his talk after describing his spiritual dream:
I believe in dreams…. The Lord has given me dreams which to me are just as real and as much from God as was the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, which was the means of saving a nation from starvation, or the dream of Lehi who through a dream led his colony out of the old country across the mighty deep….
It is not out of place for us to have important dreams… I had a dream which I am sure was from the Lord. In this dream I was in the presence of my Savior as he stood mid-air. He spoke no word to me, but my love for him was such that I have not words to explain. I know that no mortal man can love the Lord as I experienced that love for the Savior unless God reveals it to him. I would have remained in his presence, but there was a power drawing me away from him.
As a result of that dream, I had this feeling that no matter what might be required of my hands, what the gospel might entail unto me, I would do what I should be asked to do even to the laying down of my life.
And so when we read in the scriptures what the Savior said to his disciples, ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions: … I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am, there ye may be also.’ (John 14:2-3.) I think that is where I want to be.
If only I can be with my Savior and have that same sense of love that I had in that dream, it will be the goal of my existence, the desire of my life (CR, Oct 1946, 139).
Spiritual Dreams are Available to All of Us
The gift to receive spiritual dreams is more prevalent in some people than in others (D&C 46:11-26).
Not every faith-filled will receive spiritual dreams, but nevertheless every person of faith is entitled to some form of revelation from God through the Holy Ghost. Receiving spiritual dreams is one of those ways.
We are encouraged to act upon our spiritual dreams from God. Elder Jeffery R. Holland, another modern-day apostle, taught: “We must take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow, dream dreams and see visions, work toward their realization” (However Long and Hard the Road, 127).
More about “Spiritual Dreams ”
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