While symbols vary greatly both by how God uses them and by how the dreamer perceives it, there are a few other things that are important to pay attention to in dreams. Don’t turn these things into rules or you’ll kill the dream. I don’t even suggest using a dream dictionary (especially a non-Christian one). While these things can be helpful, God is the one who holds the answer to the interpretation of the dreams He gives—not another book. Learn how He uses symbols in the Bible and let that be your guide.
But all that being said, there are certain elements God likes to put in dreams that are important to help you discover the interpretation. Here are a few to note:
COLOR: Was your dream colorful or black and white? Did it create an atmosphere that sounded like God or an atmosphere that sounded like something sinister? The vibrancy may help you dissect the source or at least the tone of the message.
Furthermore, any particular colors that stand out are important to note. Did you see a red car in your dream? Why do you think it was red? What does that mean to you and why would God use that color? Color often represents something to us. An older culture would have associated the color purple with royalty as that was where the color belonged. Today we often associate pink with girls and blue with boys. Color can play an important part in dreams, so note anything that stands out.
CHARACTERS: The people in your dreams are important to pay attention to as they can often represent different things. For example, if you see your dad in a dream, what is the part he is playing? Was he a good dad or a bad one? Is he representative of himself or your heavenly Father or someone else? What is he doing and how does it relate to you? Or is it a dream God is giving you on behalf of your dad so you’ll be able to share this dream with him? The list of questions goes on and on and the answer will vary based on how the dreamer perceives it as they ask God for an interpretation.
NUMBERS: We see the importance of numbers at play in Joseph’s dreams. The cupbearer’s three vines represented three days. The baker’s three baskets represented three days. Pharaoh’s seven fat cows and good ears represented seven years of plenty. Pharaoh’s seven ugly cows and withered ears represented seven years of famine. Pharaoh’s perceiving the same dream in two different ways represented God surely bringing about the event.
As seen in these examples, numbers don’t always equal measurements of time—they can mean all kinds of things. Of all the symbolism that needs God’s special guidance to sort out, I’d put numbers towards the top of my list.
REOCCURRING DREAMS: If you have a dream more than once, something is saying, “LISTEN TO ME!” I’m not saying that something is God—it could be your flesh wanting you to listen or a demon wanting you to buy into their message—but whatever the source is, something is trying hard to get your attention so it’s helpful to discern what and why.
DREAMS FOR OTHERS: If you find your dream heavily focusing on someone you know, there’s always the possibility that you are being giving a prophetic word to pass along to them. This is one of the risks of learning to dream with God—He may send you on assignment even while you’re asleep—and trust me, few things are more uncomfortable than telling someone you were dreaming about them and were wondering if there was any truth to the dream. But it’s all a part of doing spiritual ministry!
NOW OR THEN: I’ve explained before that prophetic words are not always foretelling, but forthtelling. Since dreams are an avenue of the prophetic, it’s important to understand your dream on the timeline.