Revelatory dreams

February 17, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 4:14 am   Category: Personal Revelation

Have you ever had a revelatory dream? I have. In fact I had one last week. I won’t go into detail about it because it just doesn’t feel right yet… but maybe someday. It was the first one I have had in several years. The last one I remember was in 1999. The prophesies in that one came to pass just as the dream indicated. I had a few on my mission too. My current stake president recently had one that has been appropriately quoted as local scripture in many meetings since he shared it with us at stake conference.

Revelatory dreams seem to take a couple of forms. The dream my stake president had was in the genre of Lehi’s dream. It was in parable form and had to do with the stake over which he presides. It taught the things our stake needs to focus on to better fulfill our three-fold mission. (I can give you details if you’d like… ask and ye shall receive)

My revelatory dreams seem to be more in the genre of those we read about in the story of Joseph, son of Jacob. They are prophesies of important (but personal) things that are to happen in the near future. You’ll remember that not only did Joseph have dreams but he also interpreted dreams from two fellow prisoners and Pharaoh. All of those were fairly short term prophesies. This is slightly different from the dream Daniel deciphered and interpreted because that was a long term prophesy.

I’m not sure why we get the gifts we do. My gifts do strengthen my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ though. I suspect God gives me what he knows fits me. I don’t really like surprises. I invariably look at the last chapter of a novel to see how it ends before reading the whole book. I guess I just enjoy seeing it unfold and God accommodates me.

If you haven’t had any revelatory dreams don’t fret. They are probably a spiritual gift and we all get different spiritual gifts. I read an interesting post over at T&S recently where the following experience was shared on the subject of dialogic (two-way) prayer:

…once when he had the opportunity to speak of such matters with a member of the Twelve, Tom told that person of the absence of direct, dialogic answers to his prayers. Elder X responded, “The kinds of answers you are talking about are a gift of the Spirit. Evidently, you don’t have that gift.” After a slight pause, Elder X added, “Neither do I.”

So while I suspect not everyone in the church gets revelatory dreams, those who do have no reason to brag. Why take credit for a gift? We don’t earn them — if we earned them they would be more appropriately called wages or something.

So like Lehi, are you a visionary person? Like Joseph are you a dreamer? Is it common with you or rare like with me?


  1. I have had one or two symbolic dreams in my life, but there are members of my family and my wife’s family who have had quite a few revelatory dreams. I think that it is a wonderful and sacred gift of the Spirit, and you are right to be cautious about speaking too much of the specifics.

    While I am not a dreamer myself, I have often been granted interpretation of other people’s dreams.

    As a missionary in Chile, I once knocked on the door of a woman. As we introduced ourselves she interrupted us to say that she had had a dream that she knew was important. She had gone to priests and preachers and other religious leaders throughout the area and asked them to tell her what it meant and no one had been able to explain it to her.

    I asked her to tell me the dream. She related a facinating dream. The spirit touched my mind and I immediately knew what it meant and told her so. She asked me to explain it, but the Spirit directed me to give her a Book of Mormon and direct her read Nephi’s vision and that the Spirit would open her understanding.

    When we came back, she had read and she understood her dream. I expounded further upon the meaning.

    My mission ended not long afterward and I do not know if she joined the Church, but I know that she knew it was true. 

    Posted by Jonathan Max Wilson

    Comment by Anonymous — February 17, 2005 @ 12:28 pm

  2. I have had both symbolic and revelatory dreams, but they have been largely to my comfort rather than instruction. In other words, I have experienced nothing like a direct mandate to do one thing or another. Rather, I have had very clear dreams that tell me information that has been of great comfort to me as I proceed in my various roles. One of them has even been a recurring experience. It is special to me and I suspect it will be necessary at some later point, at which time it will become directly relevant and thus, directly revelatory. 

    Posted by john fowles

    Comment by Anonymous — February 17, 2005 @ 1:10 pm

  3. Jonathan,

    Thanks. That is extremely interesting. It seems likely to me that having revelatory dreams and interpreting revelatory dreams could very well be separate spiritual gifts. That is how the gift of tongues works after all. And like the gift of tongues, we can tell if it was from heaven if it conveys real light and intelligence or not.

    John F.,

    My dreams definitely provide comfort too. The view into the future they provide is the most comforting thing. I proceed with much greater faith and confidence after receiving them.

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 17, 2005 @ 3:52 pm

  4. This post name would make a good blog name. I’ve been holding off linking to your blog until you decide on the new name.

    And yes, I’d like to hear the Stake President’s dream.

    Thanks, and dream a dream for me. 

    Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Comment by Anonymous — February 17, 2005 @ 5:37 pm

  5. My wife had a dream early in our marriage. In it we were playing with a 2-year-old boy, an infant girl and she was pregnant with a boy. We lost our first child eight years ago, and our current children (not counting the growing foetus) are a girl (six) and a boy (four).

    Because of the spacing of the three pregnancies and the gender of our current two, we have assumed the first was a boy.

    My dreams are always the deja vu type; I never know they are premonitory uintil after they are fulfilled. 

    Posted by Kim Siever

    Comment by Anonymous — February 17, 2005 @ 9:30 pm

  6. Kim,
    It’s hard to know always know if a dream has divine origins, isn’t it? Most I know don’t, a few I know do, and then there are those tweeners that leave me wondering; was that just a dream or something more? Usually it was just a dream in my case.

    That is an interesting idea for a blog name, but after thinking about it I don?t think it fits me. I?d much rather err on the side of goofiness than pretentiousness. Besides, a goofy name might help offset the often serious doctrinal nature of these posts. I think New Cool Thang is gonna stick. With any luck the content will make the name irrelevant.

    As for the dream my stake president had, I need to set it up by saying we have been told that our stake here in Arizona is not only the fastest growing stake in the church, but the fastest growing stake in the history of the church. We just split the stake and both new stakes will probably be split again within 18 months.

    Here is the dream: He saw a huge banquet table with a sumptuous feast. The saints were invited and were enjoying the feast. Then he noticed that there was a growing crowd waiting to eat but the throng was so large that many could not get to the food. They began to give up and just leave.  

    The interpretation is fairly obvious, of course. As we experience this explosive growth we need to aggressively work to be sure there is room at the table of the Lord for all newcomers. Old habits won?t work in this unique situation. I think it is a beautiful example of Local Scripture . 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 17, 2005 @ 10:55 pm

  7. I’ve only had one dream that I can state for certainty was revelatory (and I knew so at the time). It was an answer to a question that had bothered me for sometime about when and how to rebuke (this was during my mission incidentally). It wasn’t for several months however, before I actually had to use what I’d learned, and have never had to since. 

    Posted by Fraggle

    Comment by Anonymous — February 18, 2005 @ 2:13 pm

  8. Missions do seem to be the most likely time of life to get revelatory dreams for most of us. I suppose it is because we are on the Lord’s errand full time and he sometimes needs to get clear but personalized information directly to us. My non-mission dreams of this nature have always related to issues of extreme importance to me and/or my family. They seem to appear at special occasions only. It is really great when we do get a real revelatory dream though, isn’t it? 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 18, 2005 @ 2:30 pm

  9. I think one of the most fascinating aspects of the early church members was their focus on dreams. B.H. Roberts and W. Woodruff both where hyper-aware of their dreams and constantly wrote in their journals about them.

    I sometimes think that they were more culturally disposed to them and consequently always were looking for them.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 18, 2005 @ 4:01 pm

  10. Good point, J. God seems to work with us how we want to be worked with. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt 7:7). The ways we revelation receive probably has to do with how we expect to receive.

    There was a great missionary in my mission (a convert) who recommended to me one time that whenever I have a dream I suspect is revelatory but can’t figure out I should immediately get out of bed to kneel and pray for an interpretation. I wonder if we all approached these things with that faith we’d get more revelation through dreams…

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 18, 2005 @ 4:15 pm

  11. Got me to thinking about signpost dreams. Little incidents that when I live through them I realize I had dreamed them before, a note that I’m on the right track in life.

    As for the other kind, I still dream of playing with Robin under a tree.

    Dream a dream for me.


    Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Comment by Anonymous — February 18, 2005 @ 9:46 pm

  12. That dream about Robin sounds like a nice gift from above, Stephen. One great thing about revelatory dreams in general is that they give us concrete images in our minds. Waking promptings don’t do that (for me at least.)  

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 19, 2005 @ 4:06 pm

  13. The dream came before her death, though I still ache for it.

    Anyway, I find the ways and means that God speaks to us (and to others for us) interesting, which is why I’m always encouraging others to mention me to God or to dream a dream for me.

    Kind of like the poor kid in the Chosen whose father hand decided to raise him in silence, always looking for reflections in the environment, as the father did of the son for things he could not ask directly.

    Comment by Stephen — February 20, 2005 @ 7:02 pm

  14. I was recently pondering 1 Nephi 1:16 which says:

    And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions  and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account. 

    I wondered why Nephi used two different words “visions” and “dreams” and the differences between the meanings of the words. Obviously not all dreams are revelatory in nature.

    As far as I can remember I have only had one dream in my life that I knew was spiritual or inspired. It was a very special experience but also left me feeling slightly perplexed. I’m grateful for that experience. nevertheless. The fact that it was a one-time experience in my life probably means I need to be a more spiritual person than I am. 

    Posted by danithew

    Comment by Anonymous — February 23, 2005 @ 11:24 pm

  15. Welcome danithew! You don’t know it yet, but I quoted you extensively in my second real post  at this blog.

    Anyway, I don’t think receiving revelatory dreams is correlated with righteousness. I think it is simple a spiritual gift and we all receive different spiritual gifts. I don’t count the fact that I have gotten a few as a sign of righteousness — if I did that I’d also have to consider my inablity to get excited about family history a sign of my wickedness.

    Your comments reminded me of other dreams I have had but hadn’t thought of in this discussion yet… This kind doesn’t provide clear visual images like the dream that prompted this post, but they have powerful feelings attached… sort of like I was talking with someone Holy. I’ve had a few of those. But all I retain from that type of dream/experience is that feeling . It is a sublime and sweet feeling, though…

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 23, 2005 @ 11:59 pm

  16. Hey Geoff, I had no idea I had been quoted in that post you mentioned. I read the post and was grateful for your thoughts on the matter. Those scriptural passages using the word “monster” are certainly food for thought.

    I think if a person has a spiritual experience one time, there is a good chance the same person can have a similar spiritual experience again if the person seeks for it. I had this dream years ago and have pondered it occasionally, but perhaps I should be more of a seeker.

    I can’t help but think of JSH 1:29 where Joseph Smith states the following:

    In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to aprayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.  

    Anyway, I’m enjoying your blog. I’ve added it to my RSS Reader so hopefully I’ll keep up with new posts in the future. :) 

    Posted by danithew

    Comment by Anonymous — February 24, 2005 @ 11:05 am

  17. “if a person has a spiritual experience one time, there is a good chance the same person can have a similar spiritual experience again if the person seeks for it.”

    Good point. This is a favorite topic of J. Stapley. He has discussed  how our culture can quell our spiritual expectations and thus we can fail to generate the proper faith to get manifestations that are available to us. They are avavilable, but maybe we don’t seek or expect them so we don’t get them.

    I’m happy to hear you might come back. You make very insightful comments. 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 24, 2005 @ 11:43 am