I Had A Dream But Can’t Remember It, Now What?

Forget a DreamIf you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you might recognize this line from a king named Nebuchadnezzar.  He had a dream so profound that it disturbed him but upon waking up, he had no remembrance of it.

But has this sort of thing ever happened to you? Have you had dreams that you can’t remember? I can guarantee you have, and more than a few times. 

Here’s the good news – don’t worry too much about it just yet. This is actually rather common and there are many reasons why you don’t remember some of your dreams. Here are a few of the most common reasons…

Nebuchadnezzar

In Daniel chapter 2 – Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and couldn’t remember it when he woke up.  All he knew was it was disturbing but he was unable to tell what it was. Personally, I’ve had a number of dreams myself that I forgot right after I woke up also. This is really frustrating especially when it happens more than a couple times. For sure, I can identify with Nebuchadnezzar and can validate it is absolutely possible to have a significant dream that you can’t remember. But the question we need to ask is, why would such a thing happen?

In considering that passage, I came to realize that if Nebuchadnezzar had remembered his dream, it would have removed a miracle proving that God can give two different people the same dream and then the interpretation.  Many dreams, although not all, come from God and in the case of the one Nebuchadnezzar had, this one definitely came from God.

As it turns out, this dream was a major global prophecy for events that were going to take place within the next several centuries and beyond.

Sealed for the Future

There is a precedent for God giving a dream but not allowing us to remember it for a time. Some dreams are given to us now, but “sealed” for a future date.  What this means is, God may give you information or insight into a future event right now, but the understanding of cannot be known until a later date. This is not to say all dreams that are forgotten are for this reason but, at times this can be the reason.

“And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future.”
(Daniel 8:26 NKJV)

One reason for this is that God validates Himself and His word by speaking well in advance of an event, proving that He exists outside of time and can tell you exactly what will happen before it does.  Another reason is that He may give you information about a future event but leave enough of it a mystery so that when it happens, you can look back and see how the codes and metaphors in the dream lined up perfectly with the real event.

Updating Your “App”

Doug Addison, a prophet and dream interpretation teacher, has spoken about this. Sometimes God will give you dreams that you can’t remember because He is hiding it for you and bypassing what is often our own intellectual barrier.

Think of it like an app on your phone or tablet.  Usually these apps update at night when we are sleeping.  When you go to the app store, you’ll see a list of the apps that updated at a time you were not even aware of.  Later, when you use that app, you notice something is different about it.  Certain features were improved and it may even look different.

The same is true for you.  God may update something in your spirit to get you going in the right direction or fix something that is out of alignment.

When God uploads new instructions to you at night, you don’t necessarily need to know what those are. But suddenly your mental and spiritual “software” will now begin operating according to new these instructions.

Medical Reasons

I’m no expert in the area of medical conditions and I don’t really focus very much on this, but this may be something to consider. Certain medications or health conditions can be a major source of hindrance to dreams. Some medications can either block dreams or be the cause of very strange ones.

If you’ve never done a study on the Greek word “pharmakeia“, I recommend you do because some of the stuff people take for “behavior/emotional modification” is exactly this.  It’s the Greek word translated into our English Bible versions as “sorcery“.  Also see Revelation 18:23 and other related passages.

I’ve also met at least one person with a serious brain injury who said he never had dreams and it was because of his condition. He was also taking prescription medicine to counteract seizures as a result of his injury.  In some cases, nutritional deficiencies can be another cause and this can be remedied by taking certain supplements.

For more information on medical issues, I recommend you check out one of the first books I ever read on dream interpretation by Laura Harris Smith called “Seeing the Voice of God”.  She does a good in-depth study on medical and nutritional issues that can hinder dreams.

Spiritual Blockages

When I first began studying dreams, I remembered very few aside from some infrequent but very prominent ones. So, I began asking God to give me more dreams.  At first, I didn’t really seem to get any and it was at least several weeks or more before that changed.  One day however, it seemed like the faucet was turned on.  From that day, I’ve been getting many dreams that I remember on a fairly regular basis with variations in number per night and per week.

Demonic oppression appears to be a hindrance at times.  Not only that, but demonic activity can bring on nightmares as I’ve written about previously.  If you are experiencing this type of harassment at night, it can be dealt with in several different ways.  All believers in Jesus have authority over demons, if you don’t understand this, you might be surprised how quickly this can be fixed.  See below for how to contact me if you are in this situation.  

Peter told us in Acts 2:17, on the day of Pentecost, that since that time we have been in a dispensation when dreams and visions are given freely to all. Therefore, there is no Biblically justifiable reason for not having dreams based on that verse and the dispensation we are currently in.

Breaking the Silence

Here’s a truth we don’t hear very often… God at times has a way of backing up from us to see whether or not we notice or care that He suddenly got quiet.  Let’s say if you are married and your husband or wife suddenly got quiet…I’m pretty sure you’d notice that. The same should be true for our relationship with God.  Silence from God does not necessarily mean everything is going well.  In fact, the opposite may be true.

Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!
(Isaiah 45:15 NKJV)

Since dreams mostly come from God, you need to go to Him to find out the reason if you are not getting very many.  There have been times when I have had very few dreams for a period of a couple weeks or longer.  The first time this happened, I became very concerned about that and decided to do something to fix this.

I went on a three-day fast where I drank mostly only water. After those three days, I started getting dreams again.  It is a spiritual truth that fasting is a way to increase our receptivity and sensitivity to hearing God’s voice; this has worked for me in dreams as well.  When we shut down distractions, we put ourselves in position to hear what we may not have as clearly before.

Four Categories of Dreams

In addition to all the above, there is a very insightful section in Doug Addison’s book, “Understand Your Dreams Now“, where he describes four levels or categories of dream recollection.  If you look at what he has to say here and compare it to what I’ve written above, you’ll see how it fits together.

Doug says these four levels may vary somewhat based on how you dream but you can use these as a general guideline to see where yours are fitting in.  Below are his four levels in bold italics with my own summary right after each in regular print.

Level 1: Clear recall, clear meaning—purpose is to give direction

This is where the message is very straightforward and requires little interpretation. It may be something as clear as an instruction showing you plainly where you left your car keys that you couldn’t find all day.  These types of dreams are not as regular as the next category.

Level 2: Clear recall, unclear meaning—have to search out purpose

Most dreams that we remember fit in this category.  We see strange symbolic images but don’t exactly know what they are telling us right away.  It often requires some time before we start to see events play out in our life that line up with the symbols. These are the types of dreams that require study to properly interpret (and the reason for most articles on this website!)

Level 3: Unable to recall—purpose is to bring automatic change

“God will often use a dream to give us instructions and direction for our daily lives. Because the change we often need is beyond our own understanding or may be a radically different course of action, God will wait until we are sleeping to give us divine instruction. Most of the time, the changes we need in our lives are outside of our current thinking.”
— Doug Addison

These types of dreams can be frustrating because we hardly remember anything. But, go back up a few paragraphs here, this is what Nebuchadnezzar had.  This is what I described about sealing a dream for a later time.  The Biblical precedent for such a dream is also found in a passage from one of the oldest books in the Bible, Job.

For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. In order to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man.
(Job 33:14–17 NKJV)

Level 4: No recall at all—purpose is to prepare our Spirit for something

This is where we can put ourselves at ease when it seems like we should be expecting to get dreams based on current life circumstances, but we don’t remember anything at all. If you’re like me and you’ve been in a time of transition or needing answers on major decisions, that last thing you want is a “silent night”.

But, as Doug describes, God is giving you the information you need, but you are just unaware of it.  Remember that updating app on your phone analogy above?

Doug also makes an interesting point here about a “dream within a dream”.  He says this is where you may have already dreamed something once before but you didn’t know it. Having a dream within a dream in this context is like God revealing that He already gave you something once before and now He is just tipping you off to that.

This type of “silence” is good since God is still speaking to you and giving you necessary information.  Hopefully now, you won’t worry so much about a dream you don’t remember!

Summary and Action

  • Always write down your dreams. The only way you can go back and discover the meaning of some dreams is to go back and review them at a later date. That includes making notes in a journal when you have a dream but you don’t remember much about it.
  • Study reliable resources, especially the ones listed here on my website. Competency in dream interpretation requires diligent effort and time.
  • Use the articles here on this website as a guide to interpret your own dreams. Use the search bar to type in keywords describing the images in your dreams and see if there’s anything I’ve already written about.
  • If you’re stuck and need help interpreting your dreams, please use the contact form and submit your dreams to me as many already have.  I will try to reply as soon as I’m able.

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