So you've had a dream, and you're trying to figure out what it means. You've already taken the beginning steps:
- You asked God for revelation. (Click here to read more.)
- You found the dream's focus. (Click here to read more.)
The next step in interpreting your dream is to take a look at the other elements in the dream. Look at the sub-focuses first, followed by the details.
How to Find the Dream's Sub-Focuses
The best way to find the sub-focuses is to reduce the dream to its simplest form. How would you tell someone the dream using as few words as possible?
Let's say you dream you're out on a walk, and you run into a stranger who is wearing all white and seems almost to glow. He hands you a scroll and tells you it is for you to read and keep. As soon as you take it from his hand, you find yourself on a stage in the middle of a stadium, and there's a crowd of people all around you.
How would you reduce this dream to its simplest form? You could say something like this:
"I met someone who gave me something, and then I was somewhere else."
Even with a long, detailed dream, once you break it down into its simplest form, you can easily recite the dream's plot—which will also give you the "plot" of the interpretation. When you've reduced the dream to its plot, whatever elements still contained in the dream are your sub-focuses.
In this example the dream is about you. You are the focus because you are the one doing most of the action. The dream includes three sub-focuses, which are all mentioned in your one-sentence plot:
- The stranger (someone)
- The scroll (something)
- The stadium (somewhere else)
Everything else in the dream is a detail, which you don't need to focus on right now. It isn't that details are unimportant, but if you get caught up trying to figure out a detail (Why was he wearing all white?), you could miss the main point (He gave you a scroll).
Start Adding the Details Back In
Once you know who the focus is and have figured out what the sub-focuses mean, you can start adding the details back into the dream.
The details always relate to the focus or a sub-focus. The man who handed you the scroll was dressed in white and seemed almost to glow; those details help you understand who the man was—he was an angel.
The details are important, but their relationship to the focus or sub-focuses is what gives them substance and meaning.
As you put the pieces together, the meaning of the dream will become clearer. The next step is to understand what all the elements mean as a whole, which I will write about in a later article.
The Question Every Interpretation Needs to Answer
Here's the question every good dream interpretation answers: "Why did God give you this dream?"
You may know every detail and all the reasons they are there, but the interpretation is complete only when you know why God gave you the dream. Understanding the why will show you a clearer picture of His heart for you and what He is doing in your life.
John E. Thomas is the president of Streams Ministries and the co-author of The Art of Praying the Scriptures: A Fresh Look at Lectio Divina with John Paul Jackson. Teaching on prophetic ministry, dream interpretation and the kingdom of God, he travels internationally and works to help restore the awe of God to a world that has lost its wonder. John and his wife, Dawna, live outside of Dallas, Texas.
To learn more about dreams and dream interpretation, check out Dream Foundations as well as other resources from John E. Thomas and John Paul Jackson at streamsministries.com.
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