Have you ever had a disturbing nightmare shortly after pouring your heart out to God in prayer? If so, you’re not alone. Many believers have experienced unsettling dreams following times of deep intercession and communion with the Lord.
As unnerving as these nightmares may be, don’t let them rattle your faith or discourage you from drawing near to God in prayer. There are several scriptural explanations for why Christians occasionally have bad dreams after praying. Understanding the spiritual context can help you respond in faith rather than fear.
- Bad dreams can be a spiritual attack to discourage prayer.
- Visions and dreams can reveal spiritual realities needing prayer.
- God may use dreams to refine and mature our faith.
- Pay close attention to any lessons or truths in bad dreams.
- Respond to fear from dreams with scripture and praise.
- Persevere in prayer despite spiritual opposition through dreams.
Bad Dreams as Spiritual Attacks
One reason you may have unsettling dreams after heartfelt prayer is that the enemy wants to disrupt your communion with God. Scripture warns that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Just as lions attack weak, isolated targets, the devil seeks out believers when they are spiritually engaged in prayer to stir up fear and anxiety.
In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Paul says:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (NKJV)
Through disturbing dreams, the enemy may try to establish mental strongholds and raise up fearful thoughts that feel out of your control after times of powerful prayer.
Why would the enemy attack following prayer? Our prayers are powerful and effective! As James 5:16 (NKJV) declares, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Through prayer, we can pull down demonic strongholds and retake spiritual ground for the Kingdom of God. This threatens Satan, so he looks for ways to retaliate, disrupt our faith, and keep us from praying.
But we have authority in Jesus’ name to take every thought captive and break free from spiritual attack. The next time a bad dream follows prayer, take authority over that demonic assignment and declare 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV) Respond in praise and thanksgiving for God’s protection. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sin or lies you need to repent of. Then keep praying and seeking the Lord in faith! The forces of darkness cannot stop God’s purposes.
Prophetic Warnings Through Dreams
Occasionally, disturbing dreams after prayer could indicate you’re wrestling with a legitimate spiritual concern that needs addressing. God may highlight an area of your life, church, or community that requires deeper intercession through unsettling visions in the night.
In Numbers 12:6, the Lord said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.” (NKJV) While we should always test prophetic dreams carefully against Scripture, some dreams do contain divine insights or visions into spiritual realities.
Think through the specific details of any bad dream following prayer. Is there a symbol, theme, or story element that speaks to a real-world issue? Perhaps God is revealing secret sin needing repentance, relationship fractures to mend, systemic injustice to fight, strongholds of fear or unbelief keeping you bound, or areas of spiritual apathy and weakness in yourself or your community. Bring any prophetic insights from dreams open-heartedly to the Lord for wisdom and understanding.
Ask God if there are any prayers or scriptures you should meditate on regarding what you saw in the dream. Daniel and Joseph in the Old Testament both had prophetic dreams requiring interpretation and prayer. Write down what you believe God may be speaking so you can pray into it more. God loves to answer prayer, so prophetic dreams often contain invitations and reminders to intercede. Let God awaken your heart to fresh prayer burdens through unusual dreams.
Dreams That Refine Us
Not every disturbing dream following prayer is a spiritual attack or prophetic message. Sometimes bad dreams serve to refine and mature our faith. Hebrews 12:11 (NKJV) says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Just as earthly fathers discipline their children, your Heavenly Father may allow unpleasant dreams at times to strengthen your trust in Him alone. Dreams can reveal places of unhealthy emotional dependence, fears, and vulnerabilities where you need to cling to God rather than self-reliance. Perhaps God is pruning away false securities to help you rely on His grace.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any lessons He wants you to learn from the dream. Maybe God is revealing sins and pain from your past that need healing. Let Him use the dream to draw you closer to Jesus’ heart of love and compassion. God will not waste what you walk through. Pray for openness to His conviction and wisdom to apply any lessons.
Rather than being discouraged by bad dreams, approach them as opportunities for greater intimacy with Christ. Sometimes the dreaming state reveals aspects of our inner thought life and beliefs that mask themselves during waking hours. Let God use nightmares and even sleep terrors to remind you of His constant presence guarding and guiding you. Nothing can separate you from His steadfast love.
Responding in Faith Not Fear
No matter the source of bad dreams after prayer – whether spiritual attack, prophetic warning, or refining discipline – believers have weapons at our disposal to respond in faith rather than fear. Here are some tips for what to do after a disturbing nightmare following prayer:
1. Claim scriptural promises of protection: Isaiah 41:10 declares “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (NKJV) Speak this and other promises aloud after waking from frightening dreams.
2. Put on worship music: Replace any spiritual darkness from dreams with the light of worship. Sing praises to God for His victory and lovingkindness.
3. Bind fear in Jesus’ name: 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” (NKJV) Cast out any spirit of fear from your mind in Jesus’ name. Ask for angelic protection.
4. Journal key insights: Writing down dream details and interpretations helps process subconscious fears and discern divine lessons. Ask God for revelation as you journal.
5. Share with trusted believers: Talk through the dream with spiritually mature ministry leaders. Their wisdom can help identify enemy schemes and hear God’s voice.
6. Intercede into threads from the dream: Any prophetic insights, sins or strongholds revealed in dreams become fuel for targeted intercession. Let God direct your prayers.
The key is responding in faith according to God’s Word rather than reacting in fear. Then you can move forward in prayer with renewed spiritual authority and focus.
Persevere in Prayer
Spiritual opposition should not deter you from seeking God in prayer. Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV) urges believers to “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance.” Jesus taught His disciples to pray to God as caring Father, not a distant deity. We have access to the throne of grace through Jesus (Hebrews 4:16).
Don’t allow the enemy to intimidate you away from vulnerable, intimate prayer. There is protection in drawing close to God, even if it stirs up spiritual kickback. Keep praying according to what’s on your heart and for what God burdens you for. Perseverance will overcome any resistance.
God wants you to run to Him for comfort and strength when you have bad dreams, not shrink back in fear. Talk to Him simply and honestly about how the nightmares affect you. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring sweet sleep and reveal any roots of the dreams that need addressing. God’s mercy is new every morning. His grace will triumph over darkness. Cling tightly to Him in prayer.
If you’ve ever been rattled by disturbing dreams following intense prayer times, you’re not alone. But don’t let those nightmares rob your peace or relationship with God. The enemy wants to use bad dreams to instill fear and discourage prayer. But by God’s power, you can respond in faith through scripture meditation, praise, and targeted intercession.
Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret any prophetic messages in dreams needing prayer. Let God use nightmares to mature and refine your walk with Him. Ultimately, persist boldly in prayer no matter what spiritual opposition arises. God remains sovereign over sleep and dreams. Entrust yourself to the Father’s strong arms, claiming His promises of love and protection. He will bring beauty even from the ashes of bad dreams. Keep praying!