I Have Dreamed a Dream

I have dreamed a dream…


As he and his family tarried in the wilderness, Lehi was presented with a message from God. He told his family, “Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision. He then relayed his dream of the tree of life, the iron rod, and the strait and narrow path. Lehi was presented with a narrative which held much meaning to him. As he recited his dream to his family, he expressed great joy for Nephi and Sam and great concern for Laman and Lemuel.

After he listened to his father’s vision of the night, Nephi expressed the desire of his heart (1 Nephi 10:17-19):

“I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

For he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.

For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost…”

Nephi sought the gift of God; to see what his father saw and hear what his father heard. He also was blessed a grand experience. The angel, not only took him through the same experience but also provided Nephi with an understanding of the symbols used in the dream/vision. The tree of life is the love of God, the iron rod is the word of God; the spacious building is the pride of man; all powerful symbols helping us understand the language of God.

Dreams have been used throughout the scriptures to convey important information about spiritual matters. Joseph was warned to take Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt to preserve the life of the Savior. Another Joseph was able to discern the meaning of the symbols of Pharoah’s dreams and save his family.

If we are to take these dreams and their interpretations as examples, our dreams can be used by God to present us with valuable information.  Nephi understood this when he said (2 Nephi 4:23):

“Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.”

Perhaps we, too, should learn how to take advantage of this mechanism of spiritual communication by pouring out our hearts to God and allowing him to answer our prayers in our visions of the night-time.

As I learned this principle, I have become more diligent in my preparation to retire, using the time to frame my questions concerns and doing my best to shed outside distractions. When the opportunity presents itself upon waking, I strive to quickly rehearse the dream in my mind and, as soon as possible, commit it to text. I can then prayerfully consider those dreams which seem to hold a message and ask God for the meaning. Sometimes my dreams are fairly long narratives with significant action. Other times, I am left only with a concise image or short segment. In either case, they are deep in symbols. God seems to speak to each of us in a language we can relate to, using items that reflect on our understanding. For example, in my dreams, a mode of transportation can represent a way of thinking. I suppose that each one of us will develop their own spiritual vocabulary, our communications with God.

As I have begun to treat these visions of the night with more careful consideration, I can see more of their value in my life. I, also, have discovered that I have a difficult time pretending. In my dreams, I am who I am. I project those thoughts that are, during my normal waking hours, hidden from public view. The real ‘me” seems to be easily portrayed in my dreams I cannot hide my true desires and inclinations. In this light, dreams can easily be used to spotlight my weaknesses found in my mind and my heart.


So… dreams… are they solely product of the pepperoni from the night before or can they be an underutilized conduit to our Maker?


What think ye?



  1. I wouldn’t think a pizza could make me dream in detail about a place I had never been before. Might be the preservatives,.. msg?

  2. I have had night-visions before, but I never prepared myself as you have done. It always has come as a surprise and there has never been a night-vision in which I was unsure whether it came from God. Upon waking after a night-vision, I was always fully aware that I had just received a revelation/prophecy from the Lord. I cannot explain the difference, except to say that it is the same experience that I have had when receiving day-visions or other daytime manifestations from the Lord, so I have been able to distinguish between just a dream and a night-vision.

    There was a time in my life that I attempted to prepare myself to experience what is called “lucid dreaming,” but I failed in the experiment. In all other cases in which I have sought revelation in one form or another, such as specifically asking for revelation to come through a dream, the Lord has always chosen a method of manifestation in which I did not expect.

  3. LDSA,
    You bring up a good point. Many times, the answer will come when I least expect it.

    I can’t guarantee that I will receive a specific answer in a pertinent dream if I prepare myself. I have found that I have better success if I am in the right frame of mind when I retire. My biggest challenge is getting as much of the detail as I can for later analysis.

    I have had some dreams that presented a challenge to me in determining the source. Sometimes I will ‘park’ a dream until I have more information.

    I do find that food can affect our mental condition awake and asleep. Pasta seems to offer the best chance for deeper dream state for me.

  4. How apropos to find this post at this particular moment. I just woke up from one of the worst dreams I’ve ever had. I was being tag teamed on a Vienna couch by Freud, Jung and Adler. (little pun there, did you catch it?)

    You’re seeing the dream/myth landscape as a choice between the random misfiring of synapses and the classical psychoanalytic interpretation. There’s a third way, I oughta mention. Claude Levi-Strauss tried to take a structural approach to it all. You might like some of his work if you have a moment here or there.

    Just a bit of ‘synchronicity’ to start a Wednesday. Thanks for this article.

  5. Thanks, Gregoire. Sorry, my degree in engineering doesn’t give me any insights into your pun. You might need to dumb it down a little for me.

  6. I learned something interesting in the Zohar about dreams. I realize the Zohar is not cannonized scripture, and I have found many ridiculous things in it. I have also found many ridiculous things in the Bible. I also believe that since Joseph Smith taught that we can benefit from the Apocrypha if enlightened by the Spirit (D&C 91) we can also benefit from other sacred texts by the same Spirit.

    So according to the Zohar, dream visions are the lowest form of prophecy. Prophecy is described as a ladder, with dream visions being the lowest rung. The Talmud apparently calls it 1/60 of prophecy, but that might be an exaggeration. The Zohar also points out that “you cannot have a dream without false imaginings intermingling.” I do believe that in sleep we are vulnerable to false spirits as well as messages from above. Of course, I also believe that part of our dreams do come from our biological bodies dealing with life and performing certain functions, but that’s not what we are dealing with here. My main point is, it is important to have the spirit of discernment with dreams. Back to the Zohar: “a dream needs a good interpretation.” I think your practice of preparing for sleep is a good one. I have tried to do this as well, both for the purpose of opening up for possible messages from above, but also to minimize any negative influences from other sources. I also find I sleep better. I do agree with LDS Anarchist though, that we do have to accept the Lord’s time table, and also accept they way the Lord intends to reveal something to us. I do believe that sleep and dreams do have a primarily biological purpose for this life, but we should be open to other aspects of dreams as well. One thing I have not done is pray for an interpretation of dreams after waking up. Your idea of committing your dreams to text is certainly in line with the Zohar statement “Speech commands that rung [dreams].”

    I believe Lehi and Nephi may have been given special visions that did not contain any falsehoods. It also may be that because they were in tune with the Spirit, they were able to commit to text only those parts of their dreams that were correct. But I have found that even visions I have received from above have had mixed messages that I needed extra help understanding. Sometimes I just needed help from the Spirit to understand biologically induced dreams as well, so I could understand myself better. Sometimes the interpretation given me by the Spirit for a dream was completely opposite of what occurred in the dream.

    Anyway, I hope these thoughts have been a helpful addition to the discussion.

    Note: I am not even really a proficient novice in Jewish mysticism, it’s just interesting to me. The text I quoted in this comment comes from a translation by Daniel C. Matt called “Zohar: Annotated and Explained” published by SkyLight Illuminations in 2002. The pages I quoted from were 37-43. The Talmud reference comes from an annotation from those same pages. The Zohar is a huge multi-volume work, and the book I am referring to was only a tiny sliver of excerpts about 120 pages long. I hope it was at least interesting, though.

  7. There are two things related to this section of the Book of Mormon that I have found interesting-

    1- Concerning the dream that Lehi had… in chapter 8 Lehi says: ” I have dreamed a dream or in other words I have seen a vision”. That statement seems odd to me because I think of a dream and a vision as being two different things. Generally I associate a dream being experienced while asleep and a vision being experiences while one is awake…. like Joseph and Sidney experienced section 76.

    One of the challenges of searching and studying the scriptures is the fact that the definition of words is not always consistent, even between the standards works. For instance, the term “soul” appears to mean something different in the D&C than it does in the Book of Mormon.

    I would be interested in knowing if LDSA and Spek (and anyone else that has the spiritual gift of prophetic dreams) has ever had a “vision” while not in the state of sleep.

    2- I am also reminded that in chapter 10 Nephi speaks of the time of his “Reign”. Was Nephi a King? If so, in what sense was he a King? If any of you have written articles or know of any articles pertaining to the reign of Nephi I would be interested in reading them.

  8. OWIW, I have had visions while asleep and also while awake. In my estimation, there is not much difference between the two experiences. Both would be classified by me as visions. That’s why Lehi’s vision of the tree of life (a night-time vision) and Nephi’s (daytime) vision of the same tree of life are so similar, meaning that they both saw the same things, though Nephi appears to have been more observant of the details than his father.

    I’ve written about Nephi being a king in The prophetic counsel against having kings (rulers).

  9. LDSA

    Good article! I have enjoyed the articles you have written about anarchy that I have read… I need to find time to read them all… You have converted me. Until Zion becomes a possibility again I think no government beats an evil government… and most certainly beats what we have now.

  10. Joseph,
    Thanks for your comments. As I am writing this, I can look up and see the my set of the Zohar. Several years ago as I continued on my journey, I purchased an English translation of the work. I used it sporadically as I delved into the world of the mystical Judaism.

    Just as Nephi desired an explanation of his vision, I believe we can receive spiritual guidance pertaining to our dreams. I recall a statement in the History of the Church by Joseph Smith to the effect that revelation can come from God, from the devil, and from ourselves. I will have to go back to see if I could find the reference. If that comment is accurate, we could use the Spirit’s help us in discerning the source and meaning of our dreams.

  11. OWIW,
    As I pondered your question, I was reminded of Joel 2:28 about “your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Does this suggest that there is an age implication regarding the receipt of visions versus dreams?

    Perhaps, as we age, our minds are more cluttered than when we are younger. In this state, it may be easier to get our attention in a dream rather than in a vision.

    I have had these types of experiences both while awake and asleep. I just wish I could separate myself enough from Mammon to receive more.

  12. Dreaming a dream when you are awake… I found that some time you need to be prepared after the vision before it comes to fruition. I usually get the “do this, go here and do that” no excuse for not getting it right.
    Spektator I didn’t know that about pasta. Cool.

  13. When one studies zen he’s eventually warned about visions/hallucinations/waking dreams. They aren’t seen as significant, and the tradition warns about taking them seriously or seeing them as significant.

    I am not a Buddhist (they don’t believe in God, but it’s still the opium of the people, and all that) but I tend to take a middle path between seeing daydreams as something important, and discarding them altogether. They can contain insights from one’s subconscious, I think, but it’s important to analyze them with a measure of emotional distance.

  14. Spektator:

    Amen to your comment about Mammon! I think that’s what’s holding us all back! Anyway, I just had to second that statement.


  15. It is evident that there are many different categories of dreams, starting with ‘wish fulfilment’ dreams and proceeding from there to ‘given.’

    Dreams are frequently encoded, which is why they are often puzzling to the dreamer. Freud [who was not always right but nevertheless made significant inroads into the nature and purposes of dreams and dreaming] demonstrated how dreams are the results of suppressed events that are invested with powerful emotions that threaten the integrity of the ego, rising to our sleeping-conscious level, but to protect the ego they are transformed into highly symbolic terms.

    A therapist is not one that can determine the meaning of dreams, for no one knows their true content but ourselves. And unless we labour to crack our own code, they will likely remain closed and inaccessible to us.

    As to ‘given’ dreams, these are ‘night visions’ that are either informative or instructional, that are of divine origin. Even so, they may be symbolised and so care must be taken not to read into them things that are not there.

    ‘Given’ dreams are gifts from God and suit his purposes. Therefore, in order to get the best out of the gifts we must so live that we have the Holy Ghost with us at all times.

    Ronnie – Dreamer of Dreams

  16. I myself have not experienced a prophetic dream but I have a non LDS friend who has had many sugnificant dreams I would say come from God.

    From what I read about this subject on the internet, it seems to becoming more and more frequent among many people, having to do I think, with the fact we are coming upon a time of great changes and the Lord said He would begin pouring out dreams & visions upon many people.

    My friend at work has received many dreams from the Lord with regard to things of the gospel I have taught him. He is of a singular non denominational faith…His own. I would expound upon a particular principle or subject on a given day and that night he would have a very profound and clear life like dream, full of symbolism, which defined what I had taught him that day.

    The symbolism contained in his dreams are foreign to him but very plan to me. He comes to me with his dreams and I interpret them for him and he immediately receives a confirmation of the validity of my interpretation.

    He has had several of these dreams each week I have known him for the past 5 years and we have grown spiritually very close to each other. We both feel we are eternal brothers from another time and God has placed us together for some purpose.

    The dreams are many and apply to our concerns for what we both see taking place in the world around us, leading to what we both feel are great changes coming our way.

    It’s been such a blessing to have come to know this Brother. His Gospel enthusiasm is very strong and I can see that the Lord highly favors and tends to this man’s questions. He has many more questions than answers and receives answers to them in a very profound and consistent way through his dreams.

    I have grown spiritually from them for being able to readily recognize their meaning and it has brought us both together in a very unexpected way, as each of us have pondered over meeting each other.

    These dreams people have that are of the spiritual caliber and consistency with the gospel which this man has, are good.

  17. Here is a bit of fun syncronisity with regard to my friend I just described & how the Lord eventually brought us together.

    He and I both grew up within 15 miles of each other, not knowing each other until our old age. As kids, we grew up surfing on the same beaches but never met each other. Surfing was our youthful passion we spent most of our time doing.

    We both joined the Marines during Vietnam and both fought in the Persian Gulf War. We both retired from the Marines and met at the company for which which have come to work with each other, (Knights Armament Company, building and testing SASS sniper systems for the Marines and other branches of the military).

    At one time during our Marine careers, we had been stationed aboard the same Marine Air Base in Japan, he was a grunt, I was an Air Winger, & working within a couple of hundred yards of each other in the mid 80’s but never met each other. We spent that entire year passing each other on base and out in town and never found the moment to say hi to each other.

    The very first minutes we met at work in 2010, we began a very deep gospel discussion that has since caused us to be inseparably joined at the spiritual hip.

    It’s crazy wierd to both of us how we went so long before meeting each other and yet feel like we have always been eternal brothers. Neither of us have ever believed in coincidences…God facillitates all things in the lives of His more valliant children.

    His dreams & passion for God are very unusual and have been the live link between he & myself & the Lord. These dreams are many & very good. Most very scary but always with a good & hopeful message & outcome.

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