Lesson 02 - Dreams and Visions
By: Colette Toach
Helpful Resource: How to Hear the Voice of God Workshop

Apostolic Movement International - How to Hear the Voice of God Course

Apostle Colette Toach

Seven Ways to Hear God Prophetically

Lesson 02: Dreams and Visions

Lecturer: Apostle Colette Toach

Based on Chapters 03 - 04 of the How to Hear the Voice of God book by Apostle Colette Toach

There are two ways that you can stop that inward flow and encourage the outward flow from within your spirit, towards your soul and into your mind. You have to be either unconscious or asleep, so that your senses are no longer active.

Failing that you have to still your senses, or place them into a condition of suspension so that you are ignoring them. Only then can the influences from deep within your spirit begin to pour out and come up into your mind.

This is all that dreams and visions are. Dreams are the influences that come up out of your spirit while you are asleep. While you are asleep your body is out of action and the senses are inactive.

Therefore what is in your spirit can begin to pour out into your mind. So during dreamtime, your spirit is able to start communicating things outwardly. As it does this, it communicates information in the same way that it is fed inwards.

How is information fed inwards into the mind from outside? It can only be fed in from the body via the five senses - seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching. Those are the only elements that your mind can understand.

It cannot think in anything else because those are the influences that come in. So if influences are going to come up out of your spirit into your soul and into your mind in order to flow outwards, they will be communicated in the same way. They have to be communicated in a form like the five senses.

Receiving Through Dreams

When you dream, what you have received from your spirit in your dreams has to come via the senses. In your dreams you see things, hear things, taste things, smell things, and touch things. All of those senses come out in your dreams. There is no other way that your spirit can communicate outwards through your mind except through the senses.

So as you dream, you need to identify in your dream what is being communicated to you via those five senses. What did you see in your dream? What did you hear? Did you taste something? Did you smell something? Did you feel something? All of these things come out and they are coming out to communicate a message to you.

Your spirit cannot speak to your mind in words. Your spirit cannot speak outwards in an audible voice. It has to speak via the senses, and the most common sense is always the sense of sight. So most of your dreams are going to be taken up with pictures, things that you are going to see, and what comes up out of your spirit in dreams is going to take various forms.

Internal and External Dreams

There are two main forms that dreams take. Actually there are three, but only two of these can be used to identify a message from your spirit. The third one is of a slightly different kind.

The first form is what I call the internal dream. In an internal dream everything that comes out is symbolic and generally refers to the dreamer alone. That means that everything that you see in your dream is not really as it appears to be. When that happens you need to understand what is being pictured

Dream Symbolism

The Bible is full of symbols and life is full of symbols. We tend to remember and identify things in life by association. We associate certain objects with certain things in our life. In the Scriptures we also have objects that are used.

For example the Holy Spirit is often typified by oil or by water. We have the picture of the lamb of God, speaking of His gentleness and His humility. We have a picture of the lion of the tribe of Judah, the strength and the power. There are a lot of symbols in the Scriptures. So when your spirit begins to communicate outwards to you through dreams, it communicates to you through pictures.Here is where a lot of people miss it in their dreams.

Your dreams will be filled very often with characters and places that you know in real life. After all these are the things that you have been feeding in during your life. These are the pictures that your mind has fed downwards into your soul and now as your spirit begins to come out it looks for materials.

What your spirit is doing, is putting on a little play for you, so it looks for props, it looks for characters, and it looks for actors and actresses. It looks for everything that is needed in a play and it builds the stage, and the props, and it pulls out the stars that it is going to use. It decides who is going to play the leading role in this little play, and who is just going to play the extras.

Internal Dreams

All that takes place is this beautiful little play is put on for you, and most of the time you are the star of it. You are right in the middle of it. When you are the star and you participate in the play and take part in it, then usually it is an internal dream.

That means that the dream is about you. It is not about somebody else, it is about you. Then the characters that you see in your dream are not actually the people that you see. They are simply characters that have been picked to symbolize an aspect of your life.

So your dream is your life. It is your life being portrayed in a play. You did not know you were a playwright did you? You did not know you could write plays, but your spirit is very good at it. Your spirit creates a beautiful little play that it puts on for you, and it brings all these characters out.

So, when you begin to look at your dream, if you are going to understand what it means as an internal dream, you need to realize that you need to look at the whole picture. You need to look at the stage. You need to look at the background. You need to look at the scene that is being portrayed. You need to sometimes look at the colors that are involved.

You need to look at the characters that are involved. Are they people close to you? Are they people distant to you? Are they total strangers that you have never seen before? What objects appear in your dream? Do you have vehicles appearing in your dream?

Do you see the sun or the moon or the stars, or trees, objects that are a regular part of life? Each of these things is a symbol or picture of you, of your life, your ministry, your circumstances, and your spirit is trying to give you a message. Your spirit is trying to paint a picture for you to let you know what is going on in your life.

Internal dreams usually are not prophetic in nature. Internal dreams are not a prediction. They are not something that you need to share with the world. Internal dreams are not something you stand up in church and proclaim to everybody, "God gave me this dream and this is what the dream means." This is because the dream is not about the church, or about other people. The dream is about you.

So often people are confused here. They seem to assume that because they had a dream and it was a very clear one, and it was quite obvious that God was speaking to them in the dream, that this must be a prophetic dream.

They assume that it is for the church, the body of Christ, or for Israel or somebody else. Then they begin to pour out an interpretation of that dream that is based on others, when all the time God is trying to do is gain their attention. He is trying to say something to them personally.

The internal dream is when your spirit is trying to communicate that thing to you and is trying to give you a direction. It may be trying to give you a warning, a promise, an upliftment or a hope. Whatever the dream is trying to accomplish, it is for you, not for somebody else.

If you are going to be able to interpret that dream then you will to have to learn to interpret the symbols, remembering that the symbols in the dream are going to relate to you and you alone.

There are a lot of symbols that tend to recur. In other words, many of the symbols in certain people might mean the same thing, but they do not necessarily mean the same thing to you. You need to assess your relationship with the character in your dream.

The Father Image

If you are dreaming about your father, then the character in your dream represents a part of you that typifies your relationship with your father.

Do you have a good relationship with your father? Do you look to him and respect him? Is he your covering and protection and somebody that you admire? If so then your father could be a picture of the Lord in your dream or the Spirit of the Lord, but usually it is the Lord.

If you have a bad relationship with your father, he could picture something very different, so I am not going to give you symbols here and say this is what it means in your dream. You must examine it yourself.

Spouses

If you are dreaming about your spouse, it is going to depend on what kind of relationship you have with your spouse. If it is a good one, and if your spouse is a good influence in your life, and if there is a harmony and a closeness, your spouse could be a picture of your recreated spirit, or of the Holy Spirit.

He is there to assist you, and to guide you and help you, to be with you along the way. If your spouse is trying to stop you serving the Lord, is blocking you, and is standing in the way of your spiritual progress all the time, it might be a picture of the flesh, an obstacle, something that gets in the way. You need to examine the pictures.

Family Members

If the characters in your dream are some of your personal family members like brothers and sisters, what it is that are going to be pictured, is going to depend on what kind of relationship you have with them.

If you are dreaming of your own children then they are likely a picture of those things, which you have given birth to. They may be a picture of spiritual ministry, or they may be a picture of spiritual fruit in your life.

Whenever I have dreamed of my three daughters, the Lord showed me that they represented faith, hope and love, the triad of the spiritual forces that we have taught about. In dream after dream it was confirmed that that is exactly what they were; faith, hope and love.

So if one of them appeared in my dream I knew what God was speaking about. If the faith one appeared, my dream was telling me about my faith, and depending on what that daughter did in the dream, it would tell me something about my faith.

First Love

Whenever I have dreamed about the first person I ever fell in love with, I have known that God was speaking about my first love, my relationship with Him. There are so many different characters that can come into your dream. You need to understand what they mean to you.

You do not necessarily need to go and ask some prophet somewhere to interpret your dream for you, because he does not know about your life. He is not able, unless God gives him a word of wisdom or knowledge, to understand or to know what your dream is saying to you. It is an internal dream. It is a personal little play for you.

Vehicles and Movement

If in your dreams you are running away from monsters, and being chased and backed into a corner, it is a picture of conflict in your spiritual life. It is a picture of the condition that you are in right now. And if in your dream you are dreaming of vehicles, again it depends on what you see in vehicles and what they mean to you.

Usually a vehicle is a picture of movement, of going forward. It is therefore often a picture of ministry, of involvement, of activity in life. So for me, when I see a vehicle, it is a picture of my ministry. Maybe it will be different for you.

Usually you see the vehicle you like the most. He is speaking about progress, about activity in the spiritual realm and doing things for the Lord.

Male and Female Characters

Your dreams can indicate to you that there is a negative influence in your life. If in your dreams a male or a female character appears that you seem to be familiar with, but cannot recognize or identify, it often speaks about the masculine or the feminine qualities in you.

This is what the psychologists have called the animus and the anima. So the female character in you may refer to those feminine creative qualities, and the masculine character may refer to the logical thinking intellectual qualities.

Your dream may be telling you that you are out of balance in one of them perhaps, or that you are being influenced too strongly by one of them, or maybe that you are ignoring it. Whatever it may be, your dream is trying to tell you something. It is trying to get a message across to you personally.

That is an internal dream, and everything is symbolic. Over a period of time if you would just analyze your dreams and start to interpret them in this way, you will begin to realize that over and over again certain symbols will occur in your dreams all the time. Eventually you will find that you can very easily identify what your spirit is trying to say to you from within, as it comes into your mind during dreamtime.

External Dreams

External dreams are those that are a little bit more prophetic. External dreams are when the characters in your dreams are the real characters that they represent, but here is the difficulty. It is sometimes difficult to know when you are having an internal dream or an external one.

This causes problems, because in your dream you may dream that somebody died. Very often a person will wake up in fear because they dreamed that their spouse died and they say, "Oh, the Lord must be warning me that my husband is going to die or my wife is going to die." No, it could be that your dream is saying to you that the things that you are married to are going to die.

The things that you have committed yourself to that are standing in the way of your spiritual progress are going to die, and God is going to take them out of your life. It might actually be a very good dream.

Sometimes you might have one of these nasty dreams where there is a dead body in a coffin and you keep pulling it out, or you keep digging up the grave. Have you ever had horrible dreams like that? They are vile. You wake up feeling unclean.

Hey, your spirit is trying to say, "Leave the flesh in the grave. Stop digging it up. Stop going back to your sinful past." Every single dream has a symbol. But you see, when it comes to the external dream, the external indicates that you are actually dreaming about a certain person, but it may still be symbolic. There are still symbols all the way through.

Dark Sayings and Figurative Speech

There is what the Scripture calls dark sayings, figurative speech. God speaks in figurative speech all the time, but now the characters in your dream start to become real characters. Perhaps the places that you see in your dreams are real places. They are not symbolic any more. Now you have to start understanding and interpreting.

Differentiating Internal and External Dreams

How do you tell the difference between an internal and an external dream? The first thing to look at is, whether you are the star of this play or whether you are watching it from without?

Are you watching it as though you are looking at it on TV, as though you are standing as a bystander, not actually involved in it, but looking at it? Usually that is an indication that your dream is external, but not always.

If you are not actively involved in the dream or one of the key players, then it could be that your dream is starting to move more into the external. Then you are likely looking at something that is a little bit more prophetic. The characters in your dream are possibly the real characters that they depict.

Perhaps what the characters do in your dream could be God revealing to you things about that person. Or it could be God revealing to you things that have to do with your relationship with that person.

But you will know as you practise, as you begin to get experience, you find that the external dream is actually a vision given during sleep. It is what the Scripture calls a night vision. It is basically the same as a vision, which we will come to shortly. It is a vision given while you are asleep.

You must remember though, that 90 percent of the dreams of most people are not external dreams. They are internal dreams. Everybody dreams, but when you start to move more into the prophetic realm, only then do you start receiving night visions.

Only then do you start to receive external dreams, where your dream has an external emphasis and meaning. And sometimes, just sometimes, it is possible that your dream can be both internal and external.

Dreams That are External and Internal

If you look at some of the interpretations that Daniel gave to the king concerning the dreams that he had, they could have been given two interpretations.

The first time he interpreted the king's dream he interpreted it as external, but actually it had an internal meaning as well. When the king saw this great big image where a stone came and shattered it and it broke and went away, it was God already warning King Nebuchadnezzar that He was going to break him down and humble him and deal with him.

Daniel did not have the courage, perhaps, to tell the king the real meaning, so he gave him an external meaning. The external meaning was that each part of the image, the head and the breastplate, etc., were all different kingdoms that would go down. It had a prophetic orientation pointing towards the future.

Later on the king has another dream where an angel comes down from heaven and cuts down the tree and puts a band around it to keep the tree. And the voice speaks about this person with dew over his head for seven years, etc., and Daniel now gives the interpretation.

"The tree is you, O King. God is going to cut you down. You are going to be driven from men, and you are going to eat grass like oxen for seven years, but your kingdom will be held for you. And when you rise up and look to the Lord you will be brought back and you will be restored to your throne."

You see, it becomes more of a personal internal dream that God is speaking to the person now. In this case it is an internal prophetic dream. So when you come to interpreting dreams you need to learn how to distinguish the two, otherwise you could be led astray.

Healing and Purging Dreams

Finally there is another kind of dream, which is neither internal nor external. It is not prophetic, it is not a message, it is not a one act play. It is a load of garbage. You think maybe it was caused by what you had for dinner before you went to bed. You dream absolute rubbish.

You dream things that a Christian should not dream. You feel unclean in the morning when you wake up. You think, "Satan must have attacked me during the night." That is possible, it does happen. But I am speaking about a different kind of dream here.

Sometimes in your dream you feel pain and emotion and joy. Sometimes dream you are fighting somebody. Perhaps you are not the kind of a person who fights much. You are a bit of a pacifist. You are not one to hit back and attack people. But in your dream you are fighting and you are punching this guy's nose in. You are giving him a black eye. You are knocking his teeth out!

In your dreams you may be suffering severe temptation and giving in to lust. I want to tell you what is happening. All that is happening is all the garbage that you have picked up in your travels and experiences in the world are simply being purged out.

You see, everything that you receive while you are awake that is fed inwards via the five senses, is fed inwards to a storage area. It is sitting deep within and your heart is taking that storage of information in order to regulate your life. But when you have the Spirit of God within you, the Spirit of God begins to purge out.

As you begin to fill yourself with the Word then I can tell you, the more you delve into the Word, and the more you meditate on it, and the more time you have spent filling yourself with the Word, the worse your dreams are going to become. You are going to be confused. You are going to say, "I do not understand this. I have just been meditating on the Scripture. I have been praying in the Spirit and speaking in tongues. I have been filling myself with the Lord and spending time in His presence, and yet I have been having the vilest of dreams you can imagine. It must be Satan attacking me." No, it is not.

What is actually happening is that the Word is starting to go into your heart, and when the Word goes into your heart it has to make space. It has to start throwing the junk out so it has space to get in.

It is like the bottom of a lake. If you go and look at the bottom of a lake that has been standing still for a while you may see that the water is crystal clear and beautiful. When you look down to the bottom of the lake, everything looks fine. All the junk and the garbage that have been thrown in that lake over a period of time have been covered over with a fine layer of sand. As you look at the bottom of the lake it looks smooth, it looks great, it looks fine.

Now go to the edge of a lake where the water is shallow and take yourself a stick, and put it in and start to churn around and mix the bottom of the lake, and see what comes out. The filth that is lying down there is churned up. The sea does this all the time. We often take a walk down the beach because we live by the sea, and we see all the flotsam and jetsam and garbage that has been thrown out by the sea because it is moving all the time.

When you have a healing dream all that is happening is your spirit is churning things up a bit and saying, "Okay now, make way for the Word. Make way for the new stuff that has just come in. What are we going to throw out here? We can throw out this old tin can, throw out this piece of log. We'll throw out this piece of junk that's been rotting there for a while. Let's throw it out, we do not need it."

So where is it going to throw it out to? It is going to throw it into your mind. And out it comes as garbage, and horrible dreams. But they are actually healing dreams.

Perhaps you have had dreams of events that took place a long time ago in your life. You might in your dreams begin to relive experiences, painful hurtful experiences. All that is happening is your spirit is purging out all those bad events of the past in order that the Word can come back in its place and it can be filled with something good.

So you need to learn to discern what is coming from your dreams. Learn to detect what is being spoken out. Learn to hear the pure voice of God when it comes up. Is it giving you instruction or warning, or is it giving you a prophetic word that is for somebody else? According to what your dreams reveal, you are given a course of action to take.

Visions

So I used to say, "Oh, Lord, I wish I could have a vision."

People close to me began to say, "I had this vision from the Lord." My Dad began to have visions, powerful visions.

"Oh Lord, why can you not give it to me? Why do I not have visions, Lord?"

Then one day the Lord showed me that I had been seeing visions for a long time, but I did not know that visions do not always take the same form. What is a vision? A vision is simply, as I said earlier, an influence coming up out of your spirit and coming into your mind. The difference is it takes place while you are awake. It is really just a dream while you are awake depending on whether that vision really is a play like a dream. And if it is a play like a dream, then it will come to you just like a dream, except while you are awake.

Trance Visions

Now sometimes in order for that to take place, your natural senses have to be put into a state of suspension. That is what the Scripture refers to as falling into a trance, or a trance vision. A trance vision is simply an influence that is so strong on you, that your natural senses are suspended so that you do not see or hear anything that is going on about you. You are taken up with the vision just like you would be with a dream.

Most people do not have trance visions. If you are a prophet and you have not had a trance vision do not worry about it. Do not say, "Well I must be a second-rate prophet then because everybody else has trance visions and I do not." No, it could be that you are able to hear from your spirit without having your senses knocked out.

I have heard folks say, "Well I went forward for prayer and everybody was knocked out under the power except me."

Have you ever wondered why people fall under the power? I love the description that was given by the first evangelist that I ever saw manifesting that in his ministry, and it happened while I was still a youngster years ago. He was an American evangelist that came traveling around years ago, a healing evangelist, and when he prayed for people they would fall under the power.

He said, "I do not know why this happens. It just started to happen in my ministry." This was long before the days when it began to happen everywhere. He said, "I can only come to one conclusion. When you go to the doctor and he operates on you he puts you under anesthetic first before he can operate." He said, "I can only conclude that this is God's anesthetic. God has to put people under anesthetic so that He can operate on them. So if I pray for you and you go down don't worry about it, you are just under anesthetic. When God is finished operating on you, you will come round. You will be fine."

I loved that explanation. I still do love it. I think it is brilliant. I think if you have to fall under the power there is something that has to be knocked out. Some people do not need anesthetic. I remember going to the dentist and he would use psychology on me. He would say, "You are a big boy, aren't you? You don't need an injection!" Not that I could argue with him. Oh, I used to hate the dentist, because he did not give me an anesthetic and I would feel all the pain.

Well, maybe you do not need an anesthetic. Maybe you are open enough to the Spirit of God that He can speak to you without having to knock your senses out. Maybe you are able to hear from within your spirit. Maybe you have the kind of control where you can close your eyes and shut out your vision, where you can shut out your ears. Hey, if you have a lot of kids, you should have learned how to do that by now. It is easy! You just pretend you do not hear them when they make a noise.

But you see, not everybody has to go into a trance vision in order to receive such a strong influence in their spirits. And not all visions are active little plays. Visions can be stills as well. They can be slides. They are not always movies. You can receive a vision that is simply a picture that is printed on your mind, and it may be an active picture, but it may just be a still picture. It is still a vision. It is still an influence that has come up from within your spirit.

Every one of us, not just the prophets, has the capability of receiving those pictures. If you will just close your eyes and calm your thoughts and worship the Lord, and let your mind go freely, you will be amazed at the stuff that comes up into your mind. Some people experience that as they are going to sleep at night. It is like they have started dreaming before they have fallen asleep. Have you ever had that? Have you ever started dreaming before you fell asleep? Your mind goes mad, it goes wild, and all these pictures start to roll through it. Where do you suppose that is coming from? It is coming from the same place your dreams come from. It is coming up from within you.

A lot of the time what comes up are pictures, symbols, sometimes spiritual symbols, sometimes even revelation from the Lord, and you may not even realize it. You probably thought, "I wish I could get a hold of my mind. Man, you should see some of the things I am seeing. I have never thought of things like this before. Where is this coming from?" It is coming from inside you. Stop and listen. Say, "Hold it. What is going on here?" You might have been seeing visions and did not even know it. You would be amazed at the pictures that come up out of your mind.

Try it sometime. Sit down with a pen and paper, and let your mind just tick over and let it go. Then write down every picture, every symbol, every vision, every thought, everything that comes up into your mind. Write it down, and you will be amazed to find as you look through them how many of them actually have spiritual significance and could be interpreted just like your dreams. It could be God speaking to you internally.

As you learn to develop this, recognize it, still your mind and your thoughts, and shut out what is going on round about you, you will learn to perceive the pictures that come up from within. Then you will learn to do it while you are praying with people. You will learn to do it while you are praying for somebody in intercession. You will learn to develop this capacity to where eventually your inner vision becomes so clear and distinct that it is as clear as if you were having a dream.

For many folks the visions that they see are so clear and distinct, that it appears that they have gone into a trance vision, but actually they have not. They are simply able to shut out the external influences and draw into themselves. And often those who experience this tend to be people who are more introverted. They are not outwardly expressive. They tend to be very much loners and draw into themselves. They tend to live in their thoughts and live in a daydream world a lot. They have developed this capacity of living in a fantasy world.

People like that very often have a greater capacity to receive vision and to shut out what is going on round about them. We tend to reprove a person like that by saying, "Come on down out of the clouds!"

I remember my folks saying to me, "You are too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good. Just get down and come here! Come and join us." But they did not know what God was preparing me for. He was teaching me to 'switch off.'

Sometimes people misunderstand me when I switch off. They say, "You are ignoring me."

And I say, "No I am not, I am just ignoring you!"

I am shutting out, shutting in, coming to the place where I am listening to what is going on in my heart, what is going on in my spirit. Sometimes you need to be alone somewhere to do that. Learn to shut it out, learn to listen, learn to look and see the visions that come up out of your heart.

Open Visions

There is one other kind of vision and this vision is even more powerful in a sense, in that it is imprinted over the natural senses. It is what the bible calls open vision. Open vision is when you can look at your surroundings, and you see something else superimposed on your surroundings.

Many of those who have seen a vision of the Lord Himself have seen that kind of vision, to the extent that they have actually seen the Lord sitting in a chair next to them. They have seen the Lord standing in the corner. They have seen everything round about them and superimposed on top of that is the character, or whatever it is that your vision is revealing.

That is the open vision. It can happen. It depends on the individual. It depends on how sensitive you are. It depends on how you can shut out your senses, and whether God has to knock you out or not. You are able to receive that influence in your mind in dreams and visions.

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