What makes unwanted dreams particularly upsetting and frustrating is that we seem to have no control over them. Is there a way to regain control? Can unpleasant or even demonically inspired dreams be turned into something good? Can we not only be healed from the upsetting aspect of unpleasant dreams but actually be healed of deep hurts and find greater wholeness because of such dreams? Can dreams that tempt us end up making us spiritually stronger? Could nightmares turn out to be a precious blessing for which we will be forever grateful? These are some of the issues you and I will explore in this webpage.
If you have disturbing dreams, you are by no means alone. In fact, although they do not all warrant the term nightmare, unpleasant dreams are so common that many modern studies show that about three-fourths of dreams involve negative emotions.
If you suffer from headaches, you want relief, not a webpage of facts about headaches. Likewise, if you suffer from unpleasant dreams, you want relief, so this webpage is highly practical and focuses on bringing the relief you crave. To treat headaches, however, it is critical to identify the exact source of the headaches. Treatment will vary greatly depending on whether the source of the headache is a brain tumor, eyestrain, a neck problem, or something. Likewise, to treat unpleasant dreams we must identify the source of those dreams.
Note: While retaining confidentiality, I won’t hide anything relevant that I’ve come across in my many years of people unburdening themselves to me. I will trust your ability to seek God and discover from him whether anyone else’s experience is relevant to you, or whether it is as off the planet as it initially seems. If you are unable to hear directly from the One who knows everything because you don’t have a true relationship with God, please read What Your Fantasies Reveal immediately.
One Christian who claims to be an expert on dream interpretation insists that every single dream – no exceptions – is from God. Until I heard him say that, I had highly regarded this man’s spiritual discernment. Shocked by his emphatic claim, I thought much about it, but I cannot agree with his assessment. However, there was a time when I took a position on the opposite extreme. And I was wrong.
I once used to naively assume that no dream that is upsetting, disturbing or frightening could be from God. I now confess that this presumption is so thoroughly unbiblical that I am staggered that I ever fell for it. If for spiritual understanding I could rely on what to me seems like common sense, God would have left us a much slimmer Bible. Human dependence upon biblical revelation is profound. As Proverbs 3:5-7 warns, it is critical that I not think myself smart and trust my own understanding. Here’s blatant biblical proof that divinely inspired dreams can be highly upsetting:
Job 33:14-16 For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings (Emphasis mine.)
We also read:
Genesis 15:12-13 . . . Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him . . . (Emphasis mine.)
After Pharaoh’s dreams, “his mind was troubled” (Genesis 41:8). Likewise, after Nebuchadnezzar’s divinely inspired dreams, “his mind was troubled and he could not sleep (Daniel 2:1). He later had another God-given dream of which he wrote:
Daniel 4:5 I had a dream that made me afraid. . . the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.
Daniel had a similar experience:
Daniel 7:1,7,15 . . . Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. . . . in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast – terrifying and frightening and very powerful. . . . I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me.
Gideon overheard a pagan soldier describing a dream he had just had, which his fellow soldier correctly interpreted as meaning that their entire army would be crushed by Israel (Judges 7:13-15). Try telling me that wouldn’t be disturbing!
A search for biblical dreams that disturbed the dreamer, however, takes us far beyond such obvious instances. In fact, it is hard to find in the Bible any divinely-given dream that did not have an upsetting element. For example, Mary’s husband was told in a dream that they had to completely disrupt their lives and move to Egypt. Moreover, he was told in the dream that people were seeking to kill his son. That revelation would hardly fill him with joy.
If ever there were a positive dream, it was Joseph’s in the Old Testament in which he was told that his entire family would bow down to him, but even then the results were exceedingly disturbing. His dreams provoked a rebuke from his father and hatred in his brothers. As a direct result of those dreams he ended up kidnapped and sold into slavery (Genesis 37:5-28).
So it is wrong to dismiss a dream as not being of God, solely on the basis that it disturbs us.
A woman has kindly shared her experience to demonstrate how God could be in a nightmare:
For months I had a recurring nightmare. Every night I would dream that I was walking down a very steep and slippery ramp through a pitch-dark passageway. I grabbed the ramp’s railing to steady myself but it was so wet and slippery that I couldn’t hold on. I was chilled to the bone and apprehensive and confused. Suddenly I could sense a presence behind me. I could see nothing, but I knew it was there. I was so terrified I could neither scream nor run. I cringed, expecting the worst. Then I was stabbed in the back. Amazingly, the stab never hurt, and there was never any blood.
After suffering the dream over and over I finally begged God to take the dream away. It was then that he impressed upon my heart the surprising interpretation. At that time in my life I was participating in gossip, saying very hurtful things about someone behind her back (thus the backstabbing in my dream). However, since we prayed for this person after each gossip-fest, I felt I was doing no harm to her or me (hence no pain or blood in my dream).
Upon the Lord revealing this, I immediately repented of my gossip, and the nightmare never returned.
Another woman shares another example of what, on the surface, would hardly seem a dream from God:
For years I was ashamed and horrified by recurring dreams in which I was abusing a baby almost to the point of death. In the dream I felt no pity for her; only fear that I would be caught. I suffered abuse as a child and would never act that way in real life. I raised three beautiful children without a thought remotely close to abuse. But the Lord showed me that I was the baby. That made perfect sense. I truly hated myself. As I continued with therapy (it was so wonderful to share things and have someone believe me!) my inner healing progressed, and the dreams slowly showed me having compassion and even love towards the baby in the dream. In the last of the dreams I had full compassion and love for the baby and no intent at all to harm her. I now haven’t had such a dream for at least nine months. .
Some dreams have elements that would be impossible to reproduce in real life, such as a person turning into an animal in front of the dreamer’s eyes. I know a woman, however, who had certain nightmares that did not contain these impossible elements but other than that they were as horrifying and terrifying and unlikely as any nightmare can get. No ordinary person, herself included, would suppose that these nightmares were accurate memories, without the slightest distortion or elaboration, but it turned out that this is precisely what they were. She had suffered Satanic Ritual Abuse as a child and for decades had lost all memory of ever having been exposed to it. These dreams proved key pieces in the puzzle as to why she was always oppressed. She never wanted those dreams but they ended up playing a vital role in putting her shattered life back together.
My dreams always seem to contain fanciful elements. I don’t recall ever having a dream that was an accurate repeat of something I had previously experienced. So I was surprised to learn from people with traumatic pasts that sometimes their nightmares – often repeated several times over the years – are exact reproductions of traumatic experiences they had suffered long before. They seem more like flashbacks than dreams but they occur during sleep.
Often, like the woman mentioned above, it is years after first having these dreams that they begin to realize that they are not just having nightmares but memories of actual events. They suffered such horrors that anyone’s mind would naturally recoil from them and want to totally erase them, but on the other hand there is a deep human need to process and resolve traumatic memories, and, from another perspective, the experiences are simply too extreme not to be memorable. It can become virtually impossible to keep the memories suppressed forever, and dreams are one way in which they slip out. This turns out to be a greater blessing than is often realized.
I can best explain this with an analogy that for some sensitive people might itself become nightmare material. If, for example, you would find a mild horror story upsetting, then just read on. Other readers, click here.
A dream might not be like a flashback is which details from the past are replayed exactly, but it could deal symbolically with unresolved fears, anxieties and anger stemming from past traumas. If this is so, then it doesn’t take a genius to realize that resolving these issues will stop this source of nightmare. Accessing suppressed memories might seem impossible but, as Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar as he began to interpret his dream, “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Daniel 2:28). Our prayer-answering Lord “knows what lies in darkness” and “reveals deep and hidden things” (Daniel 2:22). The God who begs you to ask that you may receive says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
The God who calls you his precious child longs to reveal to you all that you need for peace and wholeness. All that is needed is for you to have the courage to face the truth when it is revealed and to handle it in a Christlike manner. This is not nearly as scary as it may seem because the God of all comfort longs to be with you every step of the way and Jesus has already borne in his own torture on the cross all the pain and punishment and injustice associated with your trauma.
When people suppose they are avoiding pain, and think the damage they have suffered is untreatable anyway, people are content to let unpleasant memories remain buried. But the surfacing of suppressed traumas through unpleasant dreams can be a blessing – and might sometimes be a direct act of God – because the damage can be treated and the pain can end, provided people with these pasts stop living in denial. The surfacing of these memories long after the event makes sense reveals divine wisdom because with the passing years these people have gained maturity, greater spiritual awareness, and sometimes greater access even to human help than when the original trauma occurred.
You need never fear truth. The Healing Lord is the God of truth and he moves in an atmosphere of truth, not one of living in denial. Just as Jesus offers full forgiveness but we must confess our sins – admit to ourselves that we are morally damaged – so healing is available to us but we must first admit that we have been internally wounded.
To deliberately live in denial is to resist the Spirit of truth. Even though he knew they needed healing, Jesus – the truth (John 14:6) – didn’t heal people without them facing reality and admitting their problem (examples). As much as Jesus wanted to heal them, their healing hinged on them admitting that they were sick and needed healing. Had they out of shame or through priding themselves in being macho said, “I’m fine,” they would have missed their healing. This principle applies to emotional healing as well as physical healing. There is no truth that takes God by surprise. There is nothing too hard for him or is beyond his ability to forgive.
The emotions we don’t want to face are inside of us, whether we deny it or not. They don’t scare God. The only problem is that they often scare us. He wants you to have the courage to get really honest with yourself and with him and face your fears and your past disappointments, frustration, anger, inner pain, and so on. He is not shocked. He knows it already and he still loves and accepts you. Rather than force himself on you against your will, he honors you by restraining his longing to deliver you and tenderly waiting for you to trust him enough to invite him into the dark corners of your life and let him touch that ever so tender part of you with his healing hands.
It is in the dark that shadows loom and harmless things seem terrifying. It is when we bring them into the light that sanity returns.
God wants you empowered to get on with your life but this cannot happen until with Christ you face the ghosts of the past. Living in denial is a sure way to keep the pain nagging in the background and hinder healing. Distressing dreams can be an invaluable way of helping us face reality so that we can heal.
Various things are needed to resolve emotional issues associated with past trauma. A key matter is to end the blame game. Nothing festers the wound, preventing healing, like blame, whether it be God, other people or ourselves that we blame. Our one and sure hope is to let our crucified Lord do what he longs to do by letting all the blame be placed on his innocent shoulders. There is blame – grave offences have been indeed committed – but we let all blame die with the One who died for the sins of the world; the one who was tormented so that our torment could end.
An obvious key to finding peace is talking to God about the issues. I’ve already mentioned this. Something we can foolishly overlook, however, is talking to people about the things that disturb us. Many of us think ourselves too spiritual for this. If so, we are more “spiritual” than God. For Scriptures exposing this as a lie our temptation to keep things solely between God and us, see Our Need of Human Help.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other . . . so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Here’s a powerful saying: You are as sick as your secrets. (Source) Keep pounding heaven’s door until every personal implication is revealed.
In the dark, things seem more frightening that they really are. It is when they are brought into the light that they lose their power to terrify. It is then that they cease to haunt us.
Living in denial can never change reality. Nothing can change the past. But embracing the truth of our past empowers us to change our future reality and find true healing.
The more we let things disturb or excite us during our waking moments, the more they are likely to torment us as we sleep. Some things – such as movies with violence, sex or horror – we can avoid exposing ourselves to. Even for unavoidable things, we can lower the extent to which we dwell on them or get emotional about them. For example, the more effectively we practice the following, the more pleasant our sleep is likely to be.
Ephesians 4:26 . . . Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
Philippians 4:8 . . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
What makes it particularly important to do all we can to avoid looking at or fantasizing about anything that is borderline is that dreams are likely to seize what we do when awake and push things still further. This is just one possible factor affecting our dreams, so not all undesirable dreams will be eliminated by doing our best to control what we expose ourselves to during our waking moments but I believe it can eliminate some of them by this approach.
Not surprisingly, nightmares are more common during a crisis or after a traumatic event. In this section, however, we’ll consider the possible influence of much less emotionally charged factors.
Fevers have long been believed to be associated with bad dreams. Laboratory tests suggest that frightening dreams can be triggered by loud noises. In fact, there is a vast array of factors claimed to affect bad dreams. I stress that I have not investigated these claims to ascertain how likely they are to be true but would you humor me for a minute as I indulge my sometimes-dangerous addiction to common sense? My thoughts might only be worth common cents but I’ll let you decide.
There are obviously a huge number of factors affecting how soundly we sleep. If we do not sleep at all, we certainly will have no dreams, pleasant or unpleasant. And if our sleep is shallow or fitful it will affect the length of our dreams and whether we will remember them. Dream recall is of major importance. Almost all of us have far more dreams than we remember. It is claimed that some people regularly plagued by bad dreams have consciously or unconsciously willed themselves not to recall the dreams. Some dream researchers believe that regardless of whether it is done deliberately, immediately forgetting bad dreams is highly undesirable because it is has the effect of even more deeply burying problems that desperately need conscious examination by the dreamer.
We are more likely to dream after five or six hours sleep. This is true even if we wake up after that time and do not go back to sleep for an hour or so.
A low dopamine level in the brain might be a factor in bad dreams. It has been claimed that extra vitamin B might help correct this.
Suggested herbal remedies for bad dreams include chamomile, peppermint, caraway seed, anise and Echinacea. Lavender is also thought to be helpful. In fact, a very long list of herbs and also vitamins, minerals and amino acids are each claimed to affect dreaming, dream recall, or lucid dreaming.
For some people, drugs (whether prescribed or illicit) or alcohol, or the abrupt withdrawal of either, can apparently cause bad dreams.
Although the specific effect varies from person to person, many medications come with warnings that they may cause drowsiness. Anything that deepens your sleep has the potential to prolong an unpleasant dream. The deeper your sleep, the more terrifying or disturbing a dream must become before being sufficient to wake you and so end the dream. On the other hand, most dreams are quickly forgotten, and if you had two identical dreams (i.e. if remaining asleep did not cause the dream to escalate) and you woke immediately after just one of the dreams, it is the one you woke up straight after is the one most likely to be remembered. A further complicating factor is that a forgotten dream could be a wasted opportunity for healing or personal growth or avoidance of future problems.
As a last resort, doctors can prescribe medication that actually reduces the amount of what is known as REM sleep – that part of the sleep cycle in which most of our dreams occur. However, researchers – for this job a sadistic streak would help – have prevented people from dreaming by waking them every time they enter REM sleep. They found that this increased the frequency with which attempted dreams occur, suggesting that our minds have a strong need to dream. REM deprivation (being denied that type of sleep in which dreams usually occur) can have a wide range of undesirable consequences.
Obviously, one needs to consider medical implication before dabbling with medications, whether herbal or otherwise. Just because something is a herb does not mean it is without risks. If “natural cures” had no effect there would be no point in taking them. However, if your dreams have changed of late, consider whether there has been any change in what you put into your body.
Some people will find this section helpful. In contrast, people not plagued with this problem have the luxury of thinking the subject distasteful and unnecessary. Such readers are invited to skip to the next section. Nevertheless, I willingly embarrass myself to support those who need it.
As an unmarried man, I have found wet dreams unpleasant. I draw comfort, however, from medical studies showing that both men and women cycle through times of sexual arousal when asleep and this is usually associated with Rapid Eye Moment (R.E.M.) i.e. dreaming. Why I find this comforting is that, for good reason, computerized equipment is often programmed to automatically do diagnostic checks. I add to this the fact our bodies need regular exercise to function best. So I see cycling through times of sexual arousal when asleep as God’s way of caring for my sexuality. It is him lovingly ensuring that I am not physiologically disadvantaged by my decision not to consciously arouse myself.
Some people suppose that waking up aroused means that they have no option but to give themselves relief. This is not so. If ignored, the tension will slowly recede. Moreover, training oneself to have that degree of control will prove a valuable asset in marriage, allowing the prolonging of pleasure and greater fulfillment for both partners.
In contrast to mere physical arousal, however, sexual dreams can be a very serious source of temptation that can hound a person for many hours after waking.
As a young man I completely broke my addiction to daily masturbation. For a long while afterwards I had a nocturnal emission about every six days. Not only was this so inconvenient that I was tempted to masturbate simply to control the timing of emissions, but instead of nocturnal emissions providing relief, I was consistently more sexually aroused than usual the next day. Eventually my body settled down. I presume this whole process was my body adjusting to not needing to produce as much fluids as before.
It was perfectly natural for Jesus to be hungry after fasting in the wilderness, but it triggered a supernatural encounter with the Evil One, who used it as a powerful temptation to turn stones into bread. Likewise, a wet dream might be perfectly natural but that does not stop evil spiritual powers from doing all they can to exploit it and turn it into an opportunity for temptation.
Most of us would be deeply upset by a dream in which we actually enjoyed sexual perversion or murdering someone. What would be even more disturbing, however, would be if we presumed this revealed our subconscious and that deep down the “real” us is perverted or murderous.
We should be very wary about jumping to such unfounded presumptions. Our spiritual enemies have a vested interest in trying to con us into falling for a false self-image. There is a strong likelihood that we will end up acting in line with whatever self-image we accept.
How we see ourselves is of extreme importance to God. He told childless Abram to call himself the Father of Many Nations. He called Gideon, hiding from his enemies, “Mighty Man of Valor.” We need to get our identity exclusively from Christ. He declares each of us a new creation for whom the old has passed away. Through him, we are the righteousness of God, more than conquerors, and so on (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:37). To be born of God means that spiritually we have God’s genes.
If our self-image is so important, we can be sure that the enemy of our souls will focus on it. Furthermore, we must realize that even the holy Son of God was tempted in every way, and unless something seems highly desirable, it is not temptation. Holiness has nothing to do with finding evil undesirable. True Christlikeness is about dying to self and if you never did certain things because you had no desire, avoiding them proves nothing about your holiness or devotion to Christ. You might still be utterly self-centered, self-serving and unregenerate.
We must fully grasp the fact that temptation is not sin, that temptation comes to everyone, and that it would not be temptation unless we found something highly alluring. For further help with this, see Temptation is Spiritual Rape.
But you might worry that not only did you find sin highly enticing, you actually yielded to temptation in your dream.
Can any of us be held accountable for what we do in a dream, or are we absolved from all responsibility for what happens when we are asleep? My common sense (are the alarms screaming in your ear?) tells me that we cannot be held responsible for what we do when not awake. I have found that so often our spiritual enemies love doing evil and then trying to fool us into accusing either God or ourselves for their own despicable deeds.
It is certainly true that Satan loves trying to condemn us for things we are innocent of, and surely it is at least sometimes true that we are not accountable for what we do in our dreams. Nevertheless, to my disappointment – and to Solomon’s great advantage – Solomon’s dream prevents me from giving an ironclad guarantee that we are never responsible. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and while still dreaming Solomon made the most momentous decision of his life. Told in his dream that he could have anything he asked for, Solomon made his choice while still asleep and God honored it (1 Kings 3:5-15).
However, there are obvious dangers in using a divinely inspired dream as the basis for making presumptions about natural dreams, let alone satanically inspired dreams. Since he wanted to know Solomon’s answer, the Lord of all would obviously have ensured Solomon could think clearly while having that significant dream. Moreover, we can be sure that when Solomon awoke from this dream, he affirmed his decision, unlike someone who dreams of sinning and recoils from it upon awakening.
In contrast to a dream from God, in a satanically inspired dream, evil forces would do all they could to confuse and fog the dreamer’s thinking. We know that temptation is not sin and it seems to me that in most, if not all, instances in which Christians dream that they are sinning, it is sheer temptation and that it is only what they do when awake that counts.
Even if we were responsible for yielding to evil in our sleep, however, the devil would love to blow this out of all proportion. As I so often find myself having to tell people, one of the most important things in the Christian life is to focus on God’s great love for us and not let Satan trick us into thinking that God frowns on us when we fall into sin. Yes, God is disappointed, but when a little child falls, what’s the first thing he does? He runs to mommy or daddy for comfort. You, too, can run to Daddy, the instant you fall. The tender, forgiving Lord is devoted to you. Satan, however, wants to you to fear, and feel bad about running to God. He knows we instinctively recoil from anyone we fear might be angry or displeased with us and keep that person at arm’s length. He wants us to be standoffish from the only One who can truly deliver us and defeat Satan in our lives. He doesn’t want us to rejoice in God’s forgiveness but to feel miserable.
A woman kindly shares with us her fascinating experience:
I began having disturbing dreams in which I found myself in all kinds of severe temptation. Most of the time I did not yield, but sometimes I did and I would awake troubled and disappointed in myself. I brought this to the Lord, and he reminded me that I had been praying that he make me a pure vessel. I had been asking him to search me in the night watches as David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24 and that was exactly what he was doing. He was honoring my request and showing me that my heart is not yet perfect.
He showed me that if I would hate evil and love righteousness, I would not succumb, even under the great temptations the dream presented, for my hatred of evil would rise and I would see it for what it is. Mind you, I would have said I already hated evil and loved righteousness, but he showed me that I still have further to go.
The dreams resulted not in condemnation but in a desire to be pure and to know God in a deeper way so that I may please him even when he searches my heart in the night. I was glad that by using a dream to show me my heart and me learning from it, I was spared from being tested in real life.
In Psalm 51, David prayed after repenting of his sexual sin. He asked to be cleansed and said in verse 6 that God desires truth in our hidden and inward parts. I had been praying along those very lines. That is my desire. He granted that with those dreams.
Of course, temptation in our dreams is no more of God than temptation when we are awake, but God carefully controls how much he allows the tempter to do so that if we respond correctly it furthers our spiritual advance.
As we continue our thorough search for every possible source of upsetting dreams, the possibilities will become increasingly bizarre.
I am acutely aware that in the eyes of many readers, I could make this page more credible if I omitted much of the following. I am strongly tempted to do just that but my conscience will not let me. To omit controversial or unlikely possibilities would be treating every reader as shallow or even spiritually incompetent. I proceed under the assumption you have the maturity to be spiritually discerning. Reject whatever you wish. All I ask is that you do not dismiss anything without first genuinely checking with the One who alone knows all things, to ascertain whether it has any relevance to you.
A man contacted me, desperate for help. He was convinced he was a born again Christian and believed that God kept telling him to do ridiculous tasks in order to free himself from demons. His “guidance” came in the form of what he called prophetic dreams, visions and internal voices.
After doing his utmost to perform each task he would receive further “revelation” that he had not done it well enough and so the promised deliverance would only occur if he performed yet another task. This continued without let up for years. Space permits just a brief outline of a few of the tasks, but before I do so, let me point out what may seem unbelievable after reading the list: he is an articulate college graduate who works as a professional. “Especially with the presence of the Holy Spirit,” he said, “[I] would like to think of myself as one with a sound mind.”
Before my counseling brought me into obvious contact with demons I had expected them to have superhuman intelligence. To my surprise, I have so far not seen this. What I’ve found in them is simply an amazing ability to delude and make foolish things seem feasible. (Incidentally, this is what happens in most dreams, does it not? Demons, however, seem to be able to fog minds even when their victims are fully conscious.)
If this man fully obeys the dreams, voices, and so on, they have promised him immense blessings. If he disobeys, however, he is threatened with cancer and financial ruin and even his salvation is said to be at stake. He feels “overwhelmed with guilt” if ever he resists the “guidance” provided by his dreams. Then follows “anxiety, loss of appetite and the feeling in my stomach as if I’ve just done a hundred sit-ups or something. It’s pretty intense.” Sometimes his supernatural “guidance” has led to such a state of anxiety, panic and confusion as to make him angry at God.
Of the many fasts he had felt led to endure, one lasted twenty-one days, drinking only water. Two days later he was told to start again, this time without water. He lasted thirteen days and then felt led not only to continue but to fly to another city and live off the streets there until told to come home. In his weakened, dangerously dehydrated state, barely able to swallow, he never made the flight. On other occasions he took time off work to follow the supernatural leading and travel to various cities in the US and Canada, usually fasting along the way, sometimes sleeping on the streets with homeless people. At times he was told to shave his head and in a dream was told, “Don’t expect others to understand what you do to shock demons.”
Several times he has been directed to swim a sort of obstacle course at his local lake. Sometimes he has had to do it naked, sometimes wearing women’s underwear, sometimes it had to be done at four in the morning in the middle of winter. This, he thinks, might be God’s clever way of curing him of his lusts.
Another time he had to crawl naked across a mud flat filled with rocks and barnacles and then swim across a short channel to a boat marina and back. His legs sank knee-deep in the mud and he was badly cut by the barnacles and rocks.
“I have spent the last ten years in solid, Bible-teaching churches . . . So you would think that doctrine should not be my problem,” he claimed.
“The tasks are strange, but perhaps a legitimate way for the Lord to drive out sin from within me and train me. . . . In the dreams, visions etc. I’ve been told that this is a great story or movie being told and that I’m the actor. . . . I’ve been shown that I’m winning keys of some sort.”
Hopefully, you do not need me to tell you that these dreams, visions and voices were not of God.
This is another section I dearly wish everyone could skip, and if you do not have sexually explicit dreams involving anyone but your marriage partner, please do. I could not claim to have a remotely adequate webpage about bad dreams, however, without at least mentioning this subject. I will leave it to the reader to prayerfully evaluate the matter. It sounds bizarre or even unbelievable to most of us but before I’m again strangled by my mastery of common sense, let me remind you that just because something is outside our experience or just because mild instances might be natural rather than supernatural, does not mean genuinely supernatural instances do not exist.
The occult speaks of incubus (male) and succubus (female) spirits that have sex with humans, usually when people are asleep or close to sleep. There are people for whom this is as undesirable as rape but there are also those who deliberately try to cultivate the experience. For them, the goal is for a spirit to appear to them in a vivid dream in human form and have sex with them. Often the requested form is that of a specific, unobtainable person they consider to be highly desirable, such as a movie star or a stranger they have been lusting over.
In his earlier years, a young Christian man had been addicted to masturbation and sexual fantasy. Several years after stopping this behavior, he was shocked to discover occult teaching exalting masturbation and sexual fantasy as the key ways of encouraging sexual spirits to take over one’s dreams. Although he had already stopped such behavior, just to play safe, he verbally renounced ever having engaged in it, and in Jesus’ name he rebuked any demons he had inadvertently encouraged. Amazingly, he then found himself subject to a counter-attack, being plagued by exceptionally vivid sexual dreams beyond anything he had ever known. He continued in spiritual warfare, and after several days of resisting the demons he was free from the dreams.
Yes, challenging sexual demons by renouncing any subconscious involvement he might have had with them, stirred a counter-attack, but remaining steadfast brought him to a level of freedom previously unknown to him. Never let sleeping demons lie. For a little more detail on this man’s experience, see Demonic Sexual Dreams.
Yep, I’d like to omit this section, too. Some Christians who suffered trauma (often abuse) at a tender age insist that the startling discovery that they have multiple personalities has brought them dramatic healing and improved quality of life. Certain others think it is all demonic, some deny the entire thing, and most don’t care. Nevertheless, at least one sincere Christian claims to have resolved two different types of unwanted dreams by this approach.
A woman I’ll call Christine had been repeatedly sexually abused as a little girl. Although conscious of the abuse, it was not until she was well into her thirties that she felt forced by things happening within her to conclude that her childhood trauma had fractured her mind into various consciousnesses (sometimes called alters). She now believes that in her mind’s desperate attempt to cope, consciousness of the full pain of each trauma was retained by only a part of her, thus freeing the rest of her to stagger through life without awareness of the brain-numbing pain.
I will share two quite different types of experiences she has had in which an alter played a role in undesirable dreams. The first is highly positive, the second is negative but was able to be completely resolved.
Upon discovering a deeply hurting little girl inside of her, Christine began to teach this alter that she was a child of the King of kings and therefore a princess. Since princesses must be obeyed, Christine told her, this alter had the God-given authority to command abusers, demons, and so on, to leave. Soon after, Christine was having one of her terrifying flashbacks. Suddenly the child alter rose up, stomped her foot defiantly and told the abuser in the flashback that he must leave her because she was a princess. In her mind’s eye the abuser left and the flashback abruptly ended. Similarly, this alter authoritatively intervened during certain nightmares and demonic appearances. Not surprisingly, Christine found peace like she had never before known.
Months later, Christine felt for hours an unusually strong urge to masturbate. Through iron will she denied herself and eventually got to sleep. She then had what to her were a series of dreams that were highly sexual. When it was finally over she heard an angry voice sarcastically say, “That will teach you to deny me!” Was this voice merely part of the dream? Was it a demon? The confusing thing is that there was yet another possibility: could it be an alter?
If it were a demon Christine was eager to rebuke it and send it fleeing but if it were an alter, an aggressive approach would be wounding. Should it be an alter, it was still vital that there be no compromise with evil and that she be in full submission to God, but any child within that is actually part of her very self must be treated with the love and tenderness of a Christ-like parent towards a delinquent child. No parent filled with godly wisdom and self-control would emotionally damage even the most rebellious child by calling her a demon (much less actually believe she is a demon!).
Christine sought God. She believes he revealed that the voice was one of her alters (not the one mentioned above). Upon questioning her, the alter admitted that she had been using masturbation as a way of trying to dull her severe inner pain. Other alters, upon discovering the advantages of full sexual purity, not only denied themselves but had begun refusing to let this alter masturbate the body they all shared. In an angry attempt to get even with those refusing to let her pleasure herself, this alter had stayed awake while the other alters slept and deliberately inflicted her sexual fantasies upon them all. What to the rest of them seemed a dream was actually this alter fantasizing.
Christine lovingly listened to the rebellious alter, comforted her, prayed for her and explained both the advantages of sexual purity and how God provides far more effective and fulfilling ways to be healed of her pain. Although very angry at first, the alter was won over in a matter of hours. She apologized to God and to the others for her fantasies, and this source of unwelcome dreams ended.
Another of Christine’s alters had felt unable to trust God’s protection enough to sleep when the other alters slept. This alter was literally paranoid, and so fearful that she would always stay awake at night and sleep in the day when other alters were awake to ensure that part of her was on guard throughout every minute of every day and night. Even when awake, she often had panic attacks at night. As an extreme act of faith in God, she made her first attempt at sleep at night. This resulted in a dream that was so terrifyingly repulsive that for the first time in her life Christine literally vomited in her sleep. She woke up fearing she would drown in her vomit. This sounds like a most discouraging setback but God turned it into a spectacular victory. Despite being deeply shaken, the alter, upon waking, told herself it was just a dream and as soon as she had cleaned up she resolved in faith to again try to sleep rather than revert to her usual practice of staying on guard. She slept soundly for the rest of the night.
So much for the bizarre. Don’t neglect to pray about what might seem far-fetched possibilities, just in case there is more to them than initially seems to be the case. We will now, however, move to something so simple that it seems believable even to those lumbered with common sense like mine. Please proceed to the next page.