“God often communicates with us through dreams,” Clara, a spiritual director who specializes in dreams, said to the twenty of us gathered for her weekend dreams workshop
“There are at least twenty-one recorded in the Bible,” she continued. “In dreams, God communicated symbolically, like Jacob seeing angels ascending and descending a ladder between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:12). God also instructed dreamers in the New Testament, such as telling Joseph not to divorce Mary because her child is the Savior (Matt 1:18-24).
“Our dreams contain signs and symbols that God uses to relay messages to us,” Clara told us. “Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, regarded dreams as a road to the unconscious and an important way to understand ourselves. The people we encounter in our dreams are often parts of our own psyche working itself out within us.”
Wow, I thought. Maybe God has been communicating with me through my dreams all these years. I just didn’t give them much attention—or, if I did, I didn’t know how to understand them.
Lectio Divina of a Dream
Clara explained one way we can listen and discern how God communicates with us through our dreams is with the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina, a contemplative way of reading the Bible that can also be applied to dreams. Here are the steps she outlined:
Offer the dream.
In a prayerful group gathering, one person volunteers to share the details of a recent dream. The others listen quietly as the person repeats the dream three times, each time adding additional details they remember.
After the dreamer has shared with the group, those gathered sit for several minutes in quiet reflection, creating space for the Holy Spirit. They listen with their hearts—not their heads—to see how the dream speaks to them. They bring the dream into their hearts as if it were their own dream and listen to what the Holy Spirit offers them.
Share: “In my dream.”
After time for reflection, those gathered share their experience of the dream by beginning with these words: “In my dream….” Starting with those words is important because it helps focus the group not on trying to interpret the dream for the dreamer, but sharing what each person heard from the Holy Spirit in the quiet of their hearts.
Making It real.
After outlining the above steps, Clara asked, “Can I get a volunteer to share a recent dream?”
Sally raised her hand and told us about a dream she had the night before.
I dreamed I was at a large lake standing on the shore. I waded ankle deep into the water. I continued to walk deeper into the lake until the water was up to my waist and then my chest. Then I dove headfirst into the water.
At first it was refreshing. But then as I came up for air, I noticed how far from shore I’d gone. I became frightened.
Next, I noticed a large waterfall pulling the water with a strong current. I was being swept up and caught in it. I tried to push against the current, but it was too strong.
I was pulled closer and closer to the edge of the waterfall.
I then noticed a large wooden wall on the side of the falls. I grabbed onto the wall to stop myself.
With the wall as a protection from the strong current, I rested and caught my breath. I looked up at the sky and asked God to help me get back to shore.
Then I dove back into the water and swam powerfully against the current.
When I got to the shore, I thanked God I’d made it safely back.
Listening With the Heart
After Sally shared her dream two more times, we sat in the quiet, listening for whatever the Spirit might place on our hearts.
Tom broke the silence after several moments. “In my dream,” he said, “The water is God’s invitation to go deeper in my relationship with him. First, I wade ankle-deep, then up to my waist, and finally I’m willing to dive headfirst and swim in God’s warm embrace.”
Shirley spoke next. “In my dream, I got scared when I was in the deep water. I realized I’m being stretched to do something in my life right now that’s pulling me out of my comfort zone. God is inviting me to trust him. He’s the warm water of love and wisdom in which I swim.”
“In my dream, the wall is a reminder of the daily quiet times I spend alone with God,” Karen offered. “Those early morning hours in solitude are like a wall between me and the world that allows me to rest, catch my breath, and ask God for the strength to do the work he’s given me to do that day. And if I rely upon the Spirit’s strength and wisdom to guide me, I make it safely back to the shore of my home.”
After each person had shared, Sally’s face glowed with a bright smile as she responded, “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I’ve been asking God for the grace to open my heart and go deeper in my relationship with him. I’ve started taking a few minutes each morning to sit with God and meditate. Sometimes that quiet time is life-giving, and I feel his Presence. But, at times I wonder if it’s God I’m experiencing or just my imagination. The dream helped me understand I’m in the right place. Resting each day in the quiet with God is where I need to be. I’m swimming in the ocean of Divine Love, and the current of life cannot overwhelm me because God is leading, guiding, and empowering me.”
Clara’s practice of Lectio Divina is a fun way to unpack your dreams and listen for God’s invitations and wisdom. You can experience this practice in a group, with one or two trusted individuals, or do it alone with God. If alone, simply ask the Creator to reveal what he’s trying to communicate to you through the dream.
Let Your Dreams Speak to You
Here are four other ways you can discover what God’s saying to you in your dreams:
Record your dreams
Write your dreams in a journal. Occasionally, review your journal to see if you can find a common phrase, person, or image that repeats. See if there’s a theme God’s unfolding for you.
Pay attention to the symbolism in your dreams
Saint Ignatius says that God often speaks to us through our imaginations. Ask God to reveal to you the spiritual meaning of the metaphors and symbols that arise in your dreams. You can research a revealed word or image if necessary to get more insights.
Discuss your dreams with a mentor or wise counsel
God often reveals his truth through the words of wise counsel. Bring your dreams to your spiritual mentor, partner, or friend. Ask them to experience Clara’s Lectio Divina practice with you. See what God reveals to you through them.
Ask and You Shall Receive
Ask God for wisdom and discernment to understand his message to you in your dream. Listen with the ears of your heart. Seek Divine Insight, and it shall be given to you.
In a world smitten with too much head-knowledge about God, the Creator invites us to experience him directly through our dreams and imaginations. Have fun with your dreams. Let God speak to you through them. Trust that, like the dreamers in the Bible, you too are being led by God through the sacred gift of your dreams.
—brian j plachta
WANT TO DIVE DEEPER?
REGISTER NOW FOR THE FREE OCTOBER WEBINAR:
LECTIO DIVINA OF DREAMS
Simple Ways to Discover How God Is Speaking to You
Through Your Dreams
A Finding Flow—Simple
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm (Eastern US Time)
Have you ever wondered if God is speaking to you through a dream?
If so, how do you discover what God might be saying to you?
Is it possible to experience Lectio Divina (divine reading) of a dream to discern its meaning?
Join me for a free Zoom Webinar to explore these questions and others.
During the webinar you’ll discover:
That God has spoken to many people in the bible through their dreams
That God uses our dreams to communicate with us
There are simple ways we can use to discover what God’s saying to us through our dreams
I look forward to being your guide for this workshop and offering you a simple way to discern God’s invitations to you through your dreams.
We’ll invite some of the participants to bring a recent dream to the workshop. We’ll then use the practice of Lectio Divina to discover some of the dream’s meanings.
You’ll experience a spiritual practice you can integrate into your life to help you discover how God is guiding you through your dreams.
How Do I Sign-Up?
Join us for this free Webinar by clicking on the link to Register or Learn More:
PS—I hope you can join us live for the Webinar, but if not, I’ll be recording it, so feel free to register and I can send you the recorded webinar to view at your convenience.