11 ways to know if a dream is from God

Marko Joensuu         37 comments
Here are some principles that help you discern the origin of a dream.

1. Can you remember the dream?

If you can’t remember the dream when you wake up, it wasn’t from God. If God chooses to communicate to you through a dream He will ensure that you remember it.

You should write down any dream that you believe might originate from God straight away, as that will help you remember it later. 

When you do that, you should describe the main plot, characters and elements such as colours, objects and the atmosphere. Daniel 7:1 says,

"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts."

2. Is it clearly structured or confusing?

God brings order into chaos and clear focus into confusion. You might not understand a God-given dream fully but if a dream is confusing it is never from God. Paul told Timothy,

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 7:1)

Others translate the spirit of fear as ‘the spirit of confusion’. When God speaks He will always communicate with clarity—even when you don’t understand what He says!

3. Is the dream connected to something you are processing in your mind?

If the dream deals with something you worry or think about a lot it is probably a result of your subconscious attempting to resolve what your conscious mind can’t. Also, if you watch a movie late at night you might see a sequel to it at night—with you playing the hero! Unless the dream gives an unexpected solution to your problem you should disregard it.

4. What is the emotional atmosphere? 

Most dreams filled with anxiety or despair come from the subconscious that functions as an overpressure valve for our fears. If you suppress your fears and anxieties they will appear in your dreams. 

But God never adds fear to your life; He always reduces it. You might see a dream that shows you the cause of your fear but then provides a solution. This kind of dream is often from God. 

The emotional atmosphere is often the key to the interpretation.

5. Is the dream linked to something God has already revealed to you?

God often adds or brings depth to what He has already revealed through a dream. It is yet another channel for Him to reveal His purposes and perspective.  

6. Is there biblical symbolism? 

Distrust any dream dictionaries as symbols often have different meanings in different cultures. If God uses symbols He chooses them based on what they mean to you rather than someone else. On the other hand, biblical symbols often point to a dream coming from God.

7. Is it a ‘realistic’ dream?

If so, it might refer to a real-life future situation, unless it clearly refers to the past. You might not be sure whether the dream was from God until you face that situation, and then it will help you to act the right way.

8. Is there a demonic element in the dream?

Just because there is a demonic element it doesn’t automatically mean that it originated from the enemy, as it might be the gift of discerning spirits in you reacting to an unseen demonic influence.

You should always pray over these dreams, and the Holy Spirit will either give you more understanding about them, or ask you to reject them outright.

9. Are you doing something wrong in the dream?

If you see a dream where you are doing something wrong, it is never from God—unless it is something you are doing or in danger of doing in real life, and God is convicting or warning you. 

These dreams might be the product of your subconscious or originate from the enemy. 

10. Do you wake up into God’s presence?

Sometimes I wake up with a distinct sense that a dream was from God. At other times, I wake up into a strong presence of God, and that can be a sign that it is a God-given dream.  

At other times God is present as He is dealing with a demonic attack that took place through a dream. It is usually easy to tell the difference. 

11. What happens when you pray over the dream?

You should always pray over a dream you think might have come from God. When you do that the Holy Spirit will often reveal you more and begin to explain its elements.


All people see dreams but those with prophetic gift can often interpret other people’s dreams. In Genesis 41 Joseph is brought from the dungeon to see the Pharaoh as his chief butler knows that Joseph has the gift of dream interpretation. Both the butler and the Pharaoh worshipped the Egyptian gods. Perhaps the Pharaoh was used to seeing demonic dreams.  But this dream has come from God. That’s why none of the magicians of Egypt could interpret it. 

Joseph and Daniel must be the most famous dream interpreters of all time.  Both confessed that it was God who gave them their ability. 

Here are five principles that can help you interpret God-given dreams.

1. Ask God for the interpretation

Many often miss this first step. Remember that if God gave you the dream He can also give you the interpretation.

2. Consider the symbols

Are there any symbols in the dream that have personal significance to you? Be careful with dream dictionaries unless they focus on biblical symbols. In the ancient Babylon, a black cat was the bearer of good fortune but in the Middle Ages it was linked to witchcraft. 
There are no references to black cats in the Bible. What does a black cat mean to you?

3. What is the emotional atmosphere?

The emotional atmosphere of a dream is important and it often helps you interpret it. For example, the dream might show a challenging situation but the atmosphere is faith-filled. This usually means that God is showing that you will be able to overcome your challenges.

4. Does the dream feel realistic?

There are dreams that appear realistic and they can refer to past real events or future events. If they come from God they usually bring their own interpretation.

5. Is the dream meant to be understood immediately?

Dreams often refer to distant future. It took years before Joseph’s dream about the Sun, Moon and the eleven stars bowing down to him come to pass. When he saw the dream he had no real understanding of its meaning. 

If you don’t understand a dream, put it aside, but don’t disregard it. Later on, it can give you great confidence as when it comes to pass you will know that you are walking in the will of God. Joseph knew that it was God who had raised him to rule Egypt because He wanted to save Joseph’s family so he blessed his brothers rather than revenged their treachery.

6. Is the dream meant to be shared immediately?

I saw a dream concerning my local church in Finland over fifteen years ago. Yet, I shared that dream to the leaders only recently, as they had arrived in the season shown in the dream. 

Don’t assume automatically that a dream should be shared immediately. Instead, pray over it, and God will give you wisdom regarding sharing the dream at the right moment.

This list has been taken from the book Five Movements: Winning the Battle for Your Prophetic Gift written by Marko Joensuu. For more on the author, please visit markojoensuu.com

Published by Marko Joensuu

Marko Joensuu has worked for over sixteen years in the publishing and media ministries of Kensington Temple. He is an author, publisher and screenwriter.
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  1. Fascinating--thank you!

  2. Great to hear that the article has been useful!

  3. Thank you so much for your input it has been very helpful to me considering my dreams

  4. I have been attending a church for 6 months. I am torn as to stay or leave. The wife of the Pastor is a prophetess . I had a dream that I was in service and the praise team was trying to get me to sing with them. I didn't want to go but I finally went. It also was a man walked in and cane to the choir stand to sing. A lady from my previous chuch walked in the door and accuses the Pastor of shooting the man that joined the praise team. The pastor myself the first lady and the lady from my old church went in a room and it was dimly lit. The Pastor did admit to shooting the man and then he tried to kill the lady from my previous church. The lady was asking the first lady of the church did she earn $9 on her job. I wind up back in the sanctuary saying I knew it I knew something was not right in this church, Lord forgive me I will stop doubting myself and I knew I knew. Where did this dream come from?

    1. It is hard to say conclusively whether it is the gift of discerning spirits or your subconscious that has generated this dream, but if there are clear signs of manipulation and over-control in the way the church is being led and in preaching, I would take this as a warning dream. If the church is run in a healthy way then I would disregard the dream. But if this is a warning dream, you would see clear signs of the pastor trying to control the church through his preaching beyond the authority God has given to him in the Bible. Also, you might see signs of the prophetess abusing her authority by attempting to affect the decision-making of the congregation members in an unbiblical way. Like I said, if none of that is happening, you can disregard the dream. But if you see it happening a lot, then it might be a good time to look for another church.

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  7. This was very useful. Answered questions ive had about a re accuring dream i feel is from God. Thank you!

    1. Great to hear that this article has been helpful! Every blessing!

  8. Hi, about two weeks ago I dreamt I had HIV and my Partner does not. He works away from home a lot and I stay at home with my two children , I am never unfaithful so in my dream I couldn't understand how I could have it, And he did not? Then I had a flashback in my dream of a cut in my palm and woke up at 2:25 am and could not go back to sleep. It bothered me very much. I tried to tell him about my dream because he is at home with me at the moment. But he has not wanted to hear about it. The strangest thing happened three days ago I found out that my new live in nanny who has been with us for only a month is infected with HIV. She had not disclosed this to me when she started working here. She had asked to go to the Clinic on Monday, so I told her no problem n asked her if it was a contraceptive injection she said yes n treatment. I immediately asked her if it was for HIV and that is when she told me. She had no intention of telling me. I had the dream weeks before I found out, it was so Vivid that it felt so real and bothered me so much that I tried to tell my partner so many times but he just refused to hear because he does not care if something bothers me especially a dream. He does not pray that or acknowledge God in anyway either... he calls these things superstitious. I pray daily read up verses in the Bible whenever I'm confused about something. I believe in God and trust him. Now that I found out about t the nannys status that dream which has been bothering me ever since that night I had it, bothers me more if it was a message from God.

    1. Please can you tell me what you think?

    2. It seems like a warning dream. Rather interestingly, the cut was in the palm of your hand. Revelation 1:17-20 uses similar symbolism. In that text, seven stars that are in Jesus' right hand represent seven angels, which means that they are his servants and obey His command. In a similar way, your palm that is bleeding means that someone who is serving you is bleeding. This is clearly a message from God. First of all, He is warning you of an danger of HIV around your house, which has given you the wisdom to ask the right question. He is pointing you to the right direction. But secondly, He is reminding you that your nanny's problems is as if you were bleeding yourself, which means that you should deal with her in a kind way. It is difficult to mention having HIV, as that would probably stop most employers giving the job to someone, especially, as it involves dealing with our children, who we have been called to protect.

  9. I had a dream around 6,7 weeks ago.I remember every detail in it.2 of my friends were in the dream.It centred around 2 pieces of land in a foreign country.I prayed asking the Holy Spirit for confirmation that it was from God.The same thing happened again,but it was a different place but in the same foreign country.I Don't want to give too much away as I don't want to influence any answers.Can you enlighten me or give me some guidance please.If I know for sure that it is from God,then I will be obedient to Him and do as He requires of me.

    1. This kind of dream usually means that at least part of your calling is to minister in one way or other in that land. This might not mean automatically that you would even visit the land, as God has many imaginative ways to make an impact. But the fact that you have been shown 2 pieces of land twice but in different parts of that nation means that that ministry impact is not necessarily fixed in one location, but that whatever you will be called to do will have an impact in different parts of that nation. So, He is showing you a land and calling you to possess it. The practical steps might not be in the dream, but they will come to you gradually, as you will continue to seek the Lord.

  10. Marko,thank you for your reply.I think you are spot on.My wife and I have a husband and wife team who went to France as missionaries 3 years ago.The wife speaks fluent French.The 1st time my wife and I went over to visit our friends,we were taken to a Bible study.I believe the Holy Spirit used me to speak out a prophecy.All 4 of us are now seeing that prophecy becoming reality.My wife and I have been over 3 more times.The last time being March 2018.We experienced 3 healings in the 6 days we were there.I had the dream late last year but have not said anything to my wife yet as I believe God will give her the same or a similar dream as confirmation.I believe our calling is in the village where our friends are.I accidentally, I am an ordained Elder.

  11. Should read incidentally,not accidentally

    1. It seems God wants you to do more. Also, based on the two lands, and two more lands, and the number of couples involved, this would mean either the expansion into a new area or increase in the number of teams. I am sure God will give you wisdom regarding that.

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    1. These women represent two kinds of thoughts - you need to seek the Lord to hear and discern the voice of the Lord, and when you hear the thoughts given by His voice, you need to receive them by faith. But then there are other kinds of thoughts around - they are noisier and they might initially look more attractive, but their advice is ungodly and not from the Lord, and they are of demonic origin, as they mock the voice of faith and obedience to the Lord.

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    3. What about the other women who wispered in ny ear? Is there anything symbolic there?

      I thought thoes two women could have represented two demonic spirits. I have been having double mindedness going on. So that seems accurate amd make sense.
      Thanks for responding right away.

    4. They do symbolise demonic spirits but you see their operation through the thoughts of demonic origin that flash through your mind. That's the main way these spirits are attacking your life.

  13. I had a dream which includes death of many people from my college (also includes hostel) (I'm a day scholar), when i thought the chaos was finished and went to home i understood that there are people outside the college waiting to kill the other survivors in the campus. It was really horrifying, what should i do

    1. Usually these kinds of dreams aren't warnings about an actual massacre but reactions to a negative, demonically influenced spiritual environment. Basically, there are demonic influences around you, which you are probably able to resist by faith and the Spirit of God daytime, but they still affect your emotional life, and subconscious, which produces the dreams that are a warning system. You should think about areas or places in your life where you feel a sense of restlessness. It is likely that those demonic influences are in those areas.

  14. I met someone I liked 6 years ago and started dreaming about them shortly after we met. I did not take them seriously at first. I dreamed often and I have even dreamed before about guys I was interested. I was sure those dreams were from the Lord, because I eventually understood that God was warning me. Showing me things about that person that I needed to know which confirmed that I should no longer pursue them. However, they never lasted more than a couple weeks. With this guy I continued to dream about him for months while we worked together. Some of them gave me a not so good feeling and that’s when I started writing them down. It wasn’t a scary feeling, just a “pay attention” feeling. We never ended up dating. The way he rejected me really hurt. Even long after I quit the dreams continued. About two years after meeting him, the initial dreams I had and the odd feeling I got made sense. The rejection from him made sense. I thought for sure the dreams would stop. He and I were no longer friends, but he continued to appear in my dreams for a total of 5yrs. I spent some time in prayer and came across a Christian man who asked to looked at a few of the dreams. I continued to write them down. He interpreted a few of them based on some recurring symbolism. I was happy to receive the interpretations, but I have been asking God to confirm what was said and still no answer. I do not want to be led into confusion. This man is the first person who felt they got a word from God about why the dreams continued. I think this man genuinely did seek the Lord in his interpretations, but we’re still human and he could have been wrong. I am hoping the Lord will give me another clear answer. Please pray for me.

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    2. Usually, people who have left your life reoccur in your dreams when the dreams are negative for a few reasons. No 1: these people have demonic influences in their lives, even when they themselves are not aware of these influences, and the dreams warn about these gateways of demonic into your life, as they are still operational. No 2: They had a significant negative impact on your emotional life. No 3: You still have objects they have given to you in your possession. If the connection that they have with you is demonic, you need to pray that God will break the power of that influence in your life. If it is merely emotional, you will need to ask God to bring healing into your soul in relation to that person, and often to forgive that person, so that your hurt won't hold onto the memory of that person.

  15. Good day Marko, I hope you can give me some insight on a dream I had about 1 or 2 years ago.

    I dreamt that my mom was in the kitchen doing dishes and an evil spirit was trying to physically attack her. It even manifested itself in objects like a stuff doll and at other times it pushed over items. I also remember seeing it in the form of a woman. The thing is I was the only person able to see it, as my mom was feeling the attacks but couldn't see what I was seeing. I would try to fight this spirit whenever it was in a form for me to do so but it was very persistent at attacking her and not me. I remember feeling overwhelmed and crying because all my efforts seemed pointless. I was trying to help my mother but I felt like I was watching this thing try to kill her. I do remember trying to pray and called on Jesus,which weakened the spirit but angered it more so the attacks got more violent. I don't remember how the dream ended but I think my son woke me out of my sleep because he heard me crying. Even when I woke up I was still crying because it felt so real and as grown as I am; over 30 I was really shaken.

    1. It does seem that you might have the gift of discerning spirits, and that it has manifested through a dream. The gift of discerning spirits is rather uncommon, although many Christians have some level of discernment. Also, it seems that you mother must have been under attack at least when you saw the dream, although it is also possible that the dream was warning about a future spiritual attack, or explaining a previous season in her life. If I saw this kind of dream, I would probably ask the person in the dream whether they feel challenged in any area, as often people misdiagnose the reason and they don't understand that they are under spiritual attack. Often just mentioning to the person in question that they are under spiritual attack can bring spiritual freedom to that person. Sometimes, praying to Jesus is not enough, as you saw in the dream. You have to confront the spiritual being in question with the power of the Holy Spirit and simply command them to leave, although, often these kinds of attacks can be repeated, and you must be persistent in providing the prayer shield. It is difficult to say what could have caused a persistent spiritual attack, but often people are attacked spiritually because there are people in their lives who have a level of involvement in the occult, either knowingly or unknowingly. This can happen even when you are reaching out to people who don't follow Jesus. Your motivation can be godly, but your love for your neighbour exposes you to the demonic forces operating in their lives. I have covered this area quite extensively in my book 'Supernatural Love: Releasing the Compassion of Jesus Through the Gifts of the Spirit', which is available on Amazon and most other online bookstores. I do also feel that there might be some things that you might want to tell about the situation that might not be appropriate to be mentioned here. If so, you can email me on marko@markojoensuu.com, and I can give you a more detailed answer. But as I said, you probably have the gift of discerning spirits, and it is important that you begin to understand how it works, as otherwise it can bring you depression, fear and many other negative emotions.

  16. I have been having intense nightmares, but last night it had colors specifically white. I was with my mother, we went to church and everyone was dressed in white, so was I. Mother and I are the only Christians in the family. Upon entering the church I began to manifest something evil within me. I was led to sit in a chair up in the pulpit alone, and everyone was facing me. The grandchild of my sister, a six year old girl, picked up a telephone that was on a table near me. I woke up. I then asked God in my mind if I had been delivered.

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  18. Sir I have this dream, a distant friend of mine came to my house then I hugged him tight and let him go inside my house. The scene changed- I am carrying him, helping him to stand while he vomits a lot on the floor and even some went to my left foot. im tapping his back to give him comfort and support.The scene changed and he is standing in front but weak and thin, he wears a lonely smile, he wants to leave but i urge him to stay because I want to help him recover, he tried to stay for a while but when I turned around he’s with my brother and mother in a car and they took him and delivered him far away from me like a car leaving from the house. I feel so much empathy, sympathy for him and im sad.
    does this dremam has a meaning? im always reminded of this dream

  19. I had a dream 6 months ago that I was in the countryside on some sort of rather large horse drawn carriage. To my right was a large hill.I was taken by a large Cathedral at the top and some other beautiful trees and buildings. When all of a sudden I get the urge to get down and started climbing this very steep hill rather efforessly. I then noticed a wire fence to my left and thinking I might get crushed if the horse drawn carriage was following me up the hill. Just then I turned to see 2 of the horses bad been unbridled from the carriage and were running up the hill to my right. I was in awe of their beauty and strength and kept climbing the hill, now with no fear. I know this dream was from God and have had another hill dream few years back that I believe was from God getting me ready for a ministry assignment for that time. Do you have any ideas about the meaning?

  20. I've had dreams too latley that felt real. I was talking to a guy in March ened in May he wanted a changed lifestyle and wanted to get closer to God I invited him to church he came. He was starting to like me but also said how diffrent I was from other females. He cried to me onetime saying I'm too good for him and how he didn't deserve me. And onetime he told me he wasn't ready to be saved because he wants to give Jesus his all. We're no longer talking at the moment. But I've been praying for him to find Jesus. To get saved. (I was hurt when we did stop talking) anyway about my dreams one dream was he came back to me crying and apolgizing to me on how he was acting with me. Another dream was we was talking about everything and we started to work it out and people got mad at me me and him went to the store I had left what I had brought at the store to me it represents (Leaving the past behind) and in my spirit I would hear (God is working on him) on the guy. (don't stop praying)

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  22. Hi In my dream I heard a voice that told me I should stop doing what I'm doing or else my family members will be terribly punished...5 years ago I made a promise to God that I will not have sex again till I get married. I have a girl that I have been dating for like 3 months now. We agreed that we will not have sex and we have not had sex, but we do kiss (French kissing) we have also had oral sex but I never penetrated her. I asked God to forgive me for the oral sex, but he should permit us to kiss only kissing. Then the night before the dream I spoke with my girlfriend and she pleaded with me to kiss her when next we see, then I had that dream.....please help me




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