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Your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. Acts 2:17

Dreams have intrigued people throughout history. What causes them? Do they have any significance? Are they a link to a higher level of consciousness?

Some are easily explained. Dreams about being caught without clothes on and about not being able to run are influenced by your sub-conscious awareness that your sleeping body is undressed and not in the mood to run. Similar frustrations occur when you try to shout in a dream, or to focus your eyes clearly on a written passage. Your real voice and real eyes do not want to actually participate in your laid-back fantasies.

Other physical realities, like indigestion or a high fever, can affect dreams. Two classic effects are an endless effort to solve an impossible problem, and a visual sensation of total roughness or total smoothness.

But there are deeper meanings in some dreams, which can teach us much... about ourselves if not about anything else.

Most of us have had nightmares, where you awake in total fright, convinced that an evil presence is in the room. We believe that such dreams come from an evil source, and that they can be replaced by supernaturally good dreams, which leave you with an enthusiastic, hopeful feeling instead.

The good or evil spirit in a dream often comes from your own attitude. For example, while some struggle to run in a bed full of blankets, others relax and experience a beautiful flying dream. Such dreams are often reflections of the peace, or lack of it, that exists in the dreamer.

Your own fears can be reflected in a fearful dream. It should not be taken as a warning from God unless it offers a positive escape. Concentrate on finding the positive aspect of a negative dream.

Going to sleep listening to God (i.e. asking God to speak, and then quieting your mind down to receive anything he might have to say) will usually short-circuit the nightmare mechanism and often bring very significant dreams.

The most reliable dreams often start out making no sense, and with no apparent connection to anything you expected God to say. The symbolism in them over-rides your sub-conscious fears and prejudices, allowing God to say something you would not have accepted in your conscious mind. When a dream is really from God, close examination may reveal meanings within meanings and other patterns which are too perfect to have been mere coincidence.

Examine your feelings in the dream more than the facts, and don't try to force a dream into a certain interpretation, or to put too much emphasis on a literal application when it is only symbolic.

It may also help to discuss your dreams with others who are experienced at interpreting them.

(See also Conviction vs Condemnation, and Eight Ways to Know God's Will.)

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