Do You Want to Remember Your Dreams?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “How can I remember more of my dreams?” Sometimes people add, “I never remember my dreams. I don’t even know if I dream.” Or “I used to remember my dreams, but lately I don’t remember any.”
Why is it so hard to remember dreams sometimes? Here are a few possibilities.
Do We Value Our Dreams?
Scientists have done enough sleep studies to know that every person dreams. Why, then, do we often not remember?
The human brain has a built-in stimulus filter called the reticular activating system that sifts out what we deem “unimportant” so we can pay attention to what we deem “important.” The problem is, we program this system to know what is important or unimportant by what we pay attention to.
When we study something or talk about it, essentially we are telling our brains to pay more attention to that subject. So we will likely start remembering more of our dreams when we purposefully start focusing on dreams, reading the dreams recorded in the Bible and talking to other people about dreams.
According to Scripture, spiritual gifts—including the ability to hear and see into the spiritual realm—can be imparted through prayer or the laying on of hands (2 Kings 6:17; 2 Timothy 1:6). If you know someone who has a deep relationship with God and dreams a lot, ask them to lay their hands on you and pray for you.
How Do We Respond to Dreams from God?
When we’re doing anything new—baking a cake, constructing a table, trying to find a restaurant in a different city—it is important that we follow the directions and that we do so in order. We need to complete step one before moving on to step two. God understands this principle even better than we do, and sometimes He will wait to tell us more until we complete the last task He gave us.
Have we had a dream (or other revelation) from God that gave us instructions? Were we obedient to follow those instructions?
If you are having fewer dreams than you used to, go back and make certain you’ve done what your earlier dreams told you to do. You may find yourself remembering more dreams in the near future.
When Memory Is the Problem
Sometimes the issue is one of memory, and in this case, we can train ourselves to remember more. If we practice short-term memory recall (these are memories less than a year old), we may find ourselves remembering more dreams and more details within those dreams.
You can find several exercises and games that can help strengthen your memory, but the best way to develop spiritual memory is to memorize Scripture. Get in the habit of memorizing Bible verses, and try to fall asleep each night going over them.
Renewing Relationship with God
Paul tells us that how we act, especially toward other believers, can grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). The word he uses for “grieve” doesn’t refer to a minor irritation, a little thing, but it means severe mental or emotional distress. If our actions are hurting God’s heart, much of what He says to us will be an invitation to deepen our relationship with Him, which may not be what we want to hear. When we’re at a point in our lives where we aren’t willing to listen to His call, we likely won’t hear the other things He says.
If there is an area of unresolved sin or relational discord in our lives, we need to repent and make it right. Not only will this bring us peace, but we may also find ourselves having more dreams from God.
Have We Asked for Dreams?
James tells us that we don’t have what we want because we haven’t asked for it (4:2). Have we asked God for dreams? Have we told Him that we want Him to speak to us in this way? How many times did we ask—only once? Only twice? If we want something, we need to persist in asking until we have it (Luke 18:1–8).
If you would like to have more dreams from God, pray this prayer: “Father, I want to hear from You in every way that You speak. Will You give me dreams and speak to me in all the ways You want me to hear, so that I can know Your heart, understand Your will and walk in Your ways?”
If you prayed that prayer with faith, you may want to put a dream journal and pen next to your bed, so you can be prepared to write down your dreams when you have them.
The Holy Spirit moves according to seasons. Sometimes we will have more dreams and sometimes we will have fewer dreams, and it could be simply the season we are in. For several weeks in a row, I might wake up a couple of times nearly every night to write down my dreams, but in other seasons, I might have only a handful of “significant” dreams in a month.
In all things related to the Spirit, there are seasons. When you’re aware of the season you are in, you will feel less frustrated with your spiritual life.
What About You?
Have you discovered other reasons that people don’t remember their dreams? Let us know! Share your thoughts in a Facebook post and tag us. Click here to go to our Facebook page.
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 Divinawith 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.