Your dreams aren’t always the Lord speaking to you, but sometimes they just might be. How can you tell the difference?
Write them down.
Writing down your dreams gives you later access to them. Even if you wrote the dream down in a sleepy state, generally the notes you make give your brain enough of a recharge that you are able to remember the dream mostly or in its entirety. This then gives you the opportunity the next day to fill in the gaps you may have left out when you wrote it down at night.
Even if you write the dream the next morning, having it to refer back to is critical. My wife and I have kept dream journals since we were young. Every so often we will look back over them and read what we felt like the Lord may have been saying to us.
Not every dream ends up being the Lord, but my wife and I have had far too many dreams to count that meant nothing for years but later turned out to be the Lord speaking. Following a prompting of the Holy Spirit on my wife, we recently sold our house and moved. The move was traumatic in many ways, and afterward we were left wondering if the Lord really was behind it.
That’s when my wife pulled out her dream journal and found a dream from nine years earlier. In the dream, the Lord showed her the house we would be moving to, the real estate agent who would be handling our affairs (who wasn’t even an agent in our town at the time) and He showed her many of the interesting and painful details of the move.
The Waiting Game
For nine years my wife had glazed past that dream whenever she would read her journal because it meant nothing. Then, one day, it meant everything. It didn’t make any of the aspects of our move easier, but it gave us great confidence to know that we were doing what the Lord wanted us to do. He was so kind and gracious to give us prophetic confirmation of something nine years before it happened. And we never would have had that if she hadn’t written it down.
Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
The Lord is speaking to Habakkuk about a specific revelation to herald to His people Israel, but the principle is useful for us today. When the Lord gives us a dream or a vision, we need to write it down. We need to write it down because sometimes the words the Lord gives us aren’t for today. Or for tomorrow. Or for next year.
They can be for us years and decades later. They may even be for other people after we’re long gone. Patience is the key to discerning what the Lord is speaking to us. I see far too many people make assumptions about prophetic words or dreams and jump the gun to try and find a meaning (full disclosure: I am also one of those people far too often). We must be patient with dreams and visions. I have had many that the Lord used almost immediately, but I have many, many more that I’m still waiting to find out if it was the Lord or “pizza.”
Many times the only way to know the difference is to wait.
And to do that, you have to write down your dreams.
So, if you dream, I encourage you to write them down. As many as you can. You never know what it may mean to you in the future.