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Dreaming as a Sign of Spiritual Health

Photo of Shawn PattersonShawn Patterson | Bio

Shawn Patterson

Shawn has built a career equipping and empowering others for life and leadership. As an author, motivational speaker, lay marriage counselor, leadership developer, and women’s ministry leader, she has addressed women at home and abroad and encouraged them to realize their worth, discover their true purpose, and navigate the uncertainties of life. She is a married mother of two beautiful adult children and a Women’s Ministry Leader at the Path Church in Atlanta, GA.

What comes to mind when you think of the word dream?

A romantic relationship with your knight in shining armor? A daydream that takes your mind off your situation or a bad dream which causes worry and fear? A false hope or pie-in-the-sky, wild idea with no basis in reality?

If you are like me and enjoy sleeping, when you think of the word dream, you may think of the series of thoughts and images that occur in your mind during the REM stage of sleep.

Just as dreaming is a natural physiological function that is common to all of us and is necessary for maintaining adequate mental and emotional health, I believe having a dream, especially embracing God’s dream for our lives, is necessary for maintaining thriving spiritual health.

You may not have what you would consider big dreams, and that’s just fine. Whether your dreams are big or small, they matter equally to God. One thing I want you to consider is that if God is a big God, who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond what we can ever ask or imagine, why not dream big?

Ephesians 3:20 says,

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think (NLT).

I’m just sayin’, if God is the creator of the entire universe, owns everything, and is in complete and sovereign control, why not dream like it? Then let’s do what we can do and God will do what we can’t.

If you live in the USA, the word dream may call one thing to mind: the American Dream. The term “American Dream” is used in many ways, but it essentially suggests that anyone in the USA can succeed through hard work and has the potential to lead a happy, successful, and prosperous life.

Still, many have attained the American Dream while totally missing God’s dream for their lives, so in reality they are living a nightmare.

John C. Maxwell defines a dream as “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”[1]

It’s imperative to me that you know that I’m not talking about self-help, and I’m not talking about “What the mind can believe, the will can conceive.” Ecclesiastes 5:7 says, “Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead” (NLT).

If God is a big God, who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond what we can ever ask or imagine, why not dream big?

My focus here is on holy dreaming and what God can do with a man or woman who loves and fears (reveres) him, who strives to seek him through a relationship, and who prays and obeys his divine will according to his word.

When we seek him through prayer and his word, we are able to rely on his mighty energy to work within us and trust him to determine our steps. Dreaming is a core part of who we are: “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13, NLT).

True, not all of our dreams come from God, and not all of them are his will for our lives, but the capacity to use our imaginations, to have visions, and to nurture desires is inherent in who he has created us to be, and “he fulfills the desires of those who fear him” (Psalm 145:19, NIV).

Dreams and desires propel us forward. In many ways, they keep us moving toward heaven—they don’t allow us to get too comfortable here, to settle in ways and places God never intended.

As long as you are alive, God wants you to go further, dig deeper, and draw closer to him.

I believe dreams are one of the primary ways he makes that happen.[2]

I confidently believe and have witnessed that God can work powerfully through any man or woman he chooses. Your age, race, circumstances, education level, and limitations do not matter if you will only surrender to him.

No, my friend, it’s never too late and you’re not too messed up. God expects great things from us, but great things are composed of a lot of little things. Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”


[1] John C. Maxwell, Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2009), 38.

[2] Adapted from Holley Gerth, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You, Kindle Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2013), Kindle location 166.

(Excerpted from Shawn Patterson, Women Who Dare to Dream [Illumination Publishers, 2013]. Used with permission.)