Dreams and the Externality of Spiritual Attacks
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had vivid and complicated dreams. Not just “I ran into my dad at school and he was playing basketball with my old swimming coach and then I noticed that the gym had no roof and I was wearing no pants; how random!”, either, but complicated dreams with plots and story lines. And usually more than a few elements that most people would call nightmares if they experienced them.
I learned lucid dreaming long ago as a defense mechanism, a way of directing the dream away from the nightmare imagery, when I was very young. And for the last few decades, it was simply a background of my life, hardly worthy of comment.
About a month ago, though, something snapped in me. I am not so boorish as to think other people’s dreams are interesting, but bear with me here as I describe the one that made me snap, because I have a point to make based on the description.
There was a building with glass walls in the front of it, so you could see clearly inside. Inside was an old jungle gym bar set. It was a time machine. If you crossed it to the right, you went one year ahead in time, the other way one year back.
I was a tour guide of sorts, helping normal people navigate.
Suddenly, the US Army came along and took it over, and everything shifted. They were in the past and they messed everything up, and war began. For a moment I was in the town I grew up in, only it had a lot of buildings that it doesn’t actually have in them, but nobody was there. About ten seconds later, the scene shifted, and the world was populated by cockroach people with no humans. They all turned around to look at me, wondering what the strange thing that was in front of them was. But before they could even threaten me, the world shifted again, and I was on a set of hills that I just “knew” (in that dreamlike way) was a race track, even though I could see nothing about racing. In the medium distance were tall, dark, angular figures, who saw me and reached out with their arms. But their arms were just sticks, really, and they picked me up by piercing both my arms and pulling me closer.
In each of these quick-fire scenarios I also had “background knowledge” about the situation that would just be tedious to go over as I could fill a few paragraphs to no useful effect for you. (If you’ve found even this tedious, then so much more so the untrimmed version!)
At this point that was a bit much even for me, so I chose to wake up. As I sat there pondering the dream for a moment, I finally realized something.
I am a moderately creative person. I have half-written novels, that are mostly half-written just because I can see there’s no great need for them in the world. I have written music. I had some talent at it but I could tell I didn’t have anywhere near enough to pay the bills. I work in an engineering job that involves quite a lot of zigging to other people’s zags and creative thinking, where I do seem to have enough talent at it to pay the bills.
But I realized something as I thought about that dream. I realized that I’m simply not THAT creative! Even despite the fact I feel like I can trace some fiction I read that feeds into that scenario, I simply can not come up with that much unique information, that many ideas, that level of detail, in 10 seconds, three or four times in a row. Even asleep with the brain undistracted by anything else, I finally found this dream simply… implausible. It requires me to believe I have a level of creative capacity that I simply do not evidence in the rest of my life.
For the last several years I believe God has been leading me in the direction of being a prayer warrior. I have been trying to apply myself to the task as directed, but I am also a natural skeptic, and am trying to stay very close to either the text of the Bible, or things I directly personally have some evidence to believe. Why? Because we live in a literal war zone, with beings older and smarter than us throwing up every smoke screen they can. Every bit of knowledge you think you have about the spiritual world that we see through a glass but dimly must be chewed on and examined and tested carefully before it is accepted. Even things that come from fellow Christians. I think there are many beliefs that are clearly false that are still a part of the vague “church tradition” or even just osmosis from our culture.
I mention this because one of those things I’ve seen in a lot of prepared prayers that I never liked were lists of things, like, “Lord, I ask that all contracts, covenants, agreements, (and on for another 10 synonyms) with any dark forces be nullified by the Power of the Blood of Christ.” I don’t like listing all the synonyms, especially when I couldn’t even tell you the difference between the various concepts in the list.
For the last several years now, I’ve been praying for “spiritual protection” for my family and household, and that demons and/or demonic forces be forbidden from my house or family. Through all that, my dreams continued unaffected. I didn’t even think of them as demonic attacks. But since this dream, I have started adding every night a specific request that my dreams be inaccessible to any demonic or evil forces, that they would be available either only to Godly forces, or that I’d be left to my own devices in my own head.
I will be a bit embarrassingly honest here because I think it can be helpful to others: I didn’t really expect this to do anything in particular. Surely I already had all the protection that I could muster in my current prayers.
As you probably anticipate from the structure of this essay here… I was dead wrong. I waited two months to publish this just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, but since then my dreams have stopped like someone flipped a light switch. There have been a couple of nights where they’ve tentatively come back… and I have a decent idea what sins I committed to open the door briefly to them… but otherwise, my nights have either been with no remembered dreams, or with normal dreams that sound more like the dreams I hear most people have. I believe there have also been a couple of nights where I was again attacked, but this time not for sin, but for some of the prayers I made with regard to some things my church was doing. This change has stuck.
As an example of the change: The next night after this, I dreamed that I was in the back of my parent’s car, and I’d made a mess. We had to pull up the carpet, and the mess was under there too. We had to go home early from where ever we were. We were driving through the town I grew up in, only with no strange alterations or anything, just the town I grew up in.
Now that is a more normal dream. No time machines, no crazy beings piercing through my arms with theirs, just normal every day stuff, mixed up in nonsensical ways, but normal stuff. The sheer normalcy of the dream itself almost shocked me awake. (No joke.)
In the last couple of months, the direction I’ve found myself growing in is an increasing realization of how much of what I consider to be “my” thought life is actually external to me. And I don’t just mean an intellectual realization, but even feeling how much of what is going on is external to me. For reasons too tedious and personal to share, I even had the absolutely bizarre experience of being intensely tempted with something that actually has no appeal to me whatsoever; a literal misfire of a temptation, which has made it even easier to realize how external it is.
On SG, someone linked a video about the Orthodox mistrust of imagination, and their attempt to nearly entirely quench it. As Christians, attaining perfect balance on this Earth is difficult to the point of impossible, and I do not quite agree that the solution is the abolition of imagination. I think we have it for a reason. Even so, I’ve been struggling lately with some daydreams I should not be indulging in, but the mental capabilities that give me the ability to indulge in such bad day dreams are the same ones that give me the ability to write this post. I tend to “daydream” or “imagine” my writing too, even when I’m not in a position to write it down. So I don’t think total elimination is the answer, but it is something to be controlled.
And the imaginative capability, including dreams, is certainly a hole we can be attacked on. The beings throwing their fiery darts into our souls are exceedingly good at presenting themselves as being a part of us. Another SG-linked video is this one on a psychologist talking about how he was slowly dragged into a belief that the voices schizophrenics hear are in fact sourced from real, external beings. Even when they are outright speaking to people, in words the person would never use, encouraging the person to do things they would never dream of doing, it is still easy to feel like these are coming from us. Especially if you have a set of presuppositions that force you to believe that everything in your head must be sourced from your head.
But to that list of “things I have personal experience now to believe” I would certainly add that there are more things being externally imposed upon us than I would have understood 20 years ago, and that we can and should be praying specifically against these things. Even when you know they are external, it is still very easy to let them weasel their way in to becoming part of you. Only through the power of Jesus Christ can these external influences be resisted. I truly pity those who are not equipped with that weaponry.
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