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Recurring Nightmares; Spiritual Attacks

May 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Challenges, Fr. Bartunek, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare



Dear Father John, When I was a child I used to have recurrent nightmares about snakes, rats, wild dogs and the feeling of choking myself. A priest came home and told my family to pray every night before sleeping, and that it would hopefully help me. It worked. And now that I’ve read this article I’m more convinced of what happened to me. It really freaked me out at first but now I want to know why this happened to me? And how can I avoid it to happen again? I could really use some help with this. Please, if you can help me get in touch with me through this website. Thanks.

You may never be able to find a specific answer as to why this type of spiritual attack was made on you. But I don’t think that should bother you at all. A general answer is sufficient.

What about the Past?
And in general, we know that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. The earth, this fallen world, is truly a battleground between good and evil. And just as God and his angels spread good influences to help us grow spiritually, so the devil and his minions are interested in impeding that growth and distancing us from God. Most of the time, their attacks simply take the form of temptations. Other times they take other forms. In your case, it could be a distraction to want to know exactly why certain things happened to you in the past. From the little that you have related, it seems that you don’t really need to know that – it may be irrelevant. I would suggest that you simply ask God to let you know why this happened, if God in his wisdom deems that you need to know it. After making that prayer, you can leave this thought aside and trust that God will take care of it.

What about the Future?
As to avoiding similar phenomena in the future, that too, I think, can be a distraction. You know what God wants of you: to follow his will, to grow in your love for him and for your neighbor, to avoid sin, to put your life and talents at the service of his Kingdom, to enjoy his gifts and glorify him by responding generously to them… If you pursue your relationship with God intentionally, lovingly, and conscientiously, you don’t need to worry about what might happen or might not happen. You will grow in your awareness that God is our Father, our Good Shepherd who always accompanies and protects us, even in the midst of our spiritual battles. Whatever he permits in our lives falls under the purview of his infinite wisdom, and he can bring good out of it, even if it seems difficult or nonsensical at the time. So I would suggest that you follow St. Paul’s advice as regards your concern about what the future might bring:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

God bless you!


Art: Caprichos No. 43, El Sueño de la Razón Produce Monstruos (Caprice No. 43, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters), Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, 1797-99, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at

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  • GHM_52

    What a soothing message! It is the one message we keep forgetting! To be in relationship with God means not to worry about past, present or future. This is what we really hunger for and yet, we fight it; we persist in worrying over things by ourselves. Thank-you, Father!

  • Cathy

    Dear Father,
    Solid.response,but what article is the person speaking about in the question?

    • LizEst

      Sorry, about that. It was supposed to be linked to in the text of the question. Thanks for calling that to our attention. We’ve fixed it in actual question above (it can now be found by clicking on the highlighted link)…and also provide that link for you here: Thanks again Cathy…and God bless you!

  • Cathy

    Thank you Liz,
    After reading the article,I identify with the latter.Having begun a more intense spiritual life.The sleep is good ,actually I find from time to time a sense
    Of something that is not on line so to speak and when this happens.The Holy Water is used ,prayers St Michael and others.the sleep is good pretty sound,thus the article is a good one for sometimes what would seem a nightmare in the night,is dealt with in the light. Just another perspective offered Amen

  • LizEst

    We deleted a mild expletive from your comment. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), particularly question number 4.4, here:

    • JKA

      No worries! Sorry!

  • KooKooChaChoo

    Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
    You can have a priest bless some salt, and maybe bring some Holy water home to bless the house as you say these. Stay strong and proclaim out loud that God is your protector and all His heavenly hosts. God is faithful, to His faithful. Good Luck, Jesus left us with Spiritual tools in the Holy Spirit, be quiet and invite Him to guide you .

  • Midgie

    Oh my, I suffered terrible from nightmares beginning as a toddler still in the crib. I can remember holding on to the spokes of the crib for dear life because I was so frightened. NOBODY could help me. My parents could tell me till they were blue in the face that there was no such thing as monsters, but they didn’t know what I knew. This was before we owned a TV, so this was not something coming from my subconscious mind because the things that appeared to me were not of this earth and nothing I had seen. When I was about 5, my Grandmother gave me a children’s book of the Story of St. Bernadette which had many pictures in it. A picture does speak 1000 words! I learned about the Blessed Mother and learned about the Rosary and that very night I prayed and asked the Blessed Mother if she would take the nightmares from me, I would pray the Rosary every night. I prayed the Rosary, as a child would, and that very night the nightmares stopped! What a miracle and something I will never forget and will always be thankful to the Blessed Mother for.

    I never had another problem with those demonic things attacking me in my sleep till many years later on the night I returned home from a medical mission I went on to Haiti. While in Haiti, we slept in a dirt-floored hut. Witch doctors would camp outside our hut while we tried to sleep chanting something or another all night long! Then a coup d’etat broke out and we had to escape off the island on boats that had been abandoned. The Coast Guard finally rescued us and brought us to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and flew us home from there. On the night I finally got home, I was attacked in my sleep again by hundreds of these demonic things who I knew wanted to kill me. I realized in my sleep how people die in their sleep…..they’re frightened to death! I was certain I was going to have a heart attack from the fright of these things who had this hideous laugh as they saw how scared I was. As they came at me like a pack of wild dogs, I screamed out “Jesus!!!!”, and the things instantly fled! They vanished in the blink of an eye! I woke up feeling so victorious as I realized that devils do indeed tremble and flee when we call upon the Most Holy Name of Jesus in belief! NEVER since then (1990) have they troubled me again, but I know now what to do if they do.

    God bless you

  • Patricia

    I suffer from them but know why the spiritual battle. When ever I try to get closer to Christ I have a bad nightmare related to my past or demonic presence. I notice satan’s pattern and tricks. I used to be terrified but now know it is just the devil’s tactics

  • LizEst

    Your quote has been edited because it can be found on our site here: This is the same link we provide in this post, above.

  • LizEst

    Yes, there is a difference in the rite between one and the other. Patting the holy water through the hair seems a little strange, if the substance of that was the same as before. In any case, it is obvious that your faith has been strengthened…and it’s good this problem has been resolved for you. God bless you!

  • Andre

    I have oil blessed by a Priest who used the blessing with exorcism from the Roman Ritual. The blessing is of oil for use in private.
    This formula is not in the Book of blessings and I was fortunate to have found a priest who wanted to do this blessing. I even encountered a Priest that didn’t even want to bless oil using the regular blessing.

  • Patricia

    I am going to try what the priest said because I keep having bad nightmares

  • carlzilla

    Moving into our new home we discovered an evil presence existed in it .Unexplainable phenomena ,knocking, weird sounds , all ceased the minute we had our home Blessed by our parish priest. I can’t stress enough the importance of having your home blessed, a tradition which unfortunately has fallen by the wayside.I think the evil one is happy it has.

  • standtall909

    I am wondering about dreams and the demonic. Let me start off by saying number one: I NEVER remember my dreams. I used to remember them once in a while when I was younger, but for years (literally) I haven’t remembered my dreams upon awakening. About 2 to 3 weeks ago, I had a sexual dream with demons tempting me. I have not had ANY problems in this are for many many years now. I try to pray the Rosary daily and have consecrated myself to the Blessed Mother, so for many many years now I have felt her protection in this area. This seemingly was out of the blue. I dismissed it upon awakening but thought it very odd. I went to confession around that same time, which I try to go pretty regularly. OK…..forward a few weeks, I had another one of those dreams, but this time in my dream I gave in to temptation. I awoke this time with a heavy feeling of dread that I had sinned terribly. I am wondering if this may be a slight demonic obsession? I always say an act of contrition before bed, and three Hail Mary’s to help me not to sin and hurt our Lord, either throughout the night or the next day. In the morning I pray a Rosary. the St. Michael Prayer, and Prayer for the Poor Souls, and occasionally renew my Consecration. What could be going on? Do I need to go to confession again just 2 weeks later? I am not a youngster anymore and thank the Lord don’t have any raging sexual hormones to deal with, and try to guard myself on what I view on TV etc. I need some input as to what to do or how to handle this. Thanks so much for this wonderful site!!

  • standtall909

    What happened to my post?

    • LizEst

      standtall909 — nothing happened to your post, except that it went into what is called “moderation.” That means that someone, an actual human being, has to read it and approve it before it is allowed to be posted. Sometimes, there can be a little time between posting and approval. This can happen when the person who is doing the approving has to be away from their desk for some reason: to pray, go to Mass, prepare supper…even, dare I say, go to the bathroom. This is for the benefit for of all concerned. There are many good comments and questions that come in, such as yours. There are also a number of them that we do not approve because they are contrary to the Magisterium, they have expletives in them, etc, etc, etc. For more information on this, please see our Frequently Asked Questions here (particularly questions 3 and 4). Thank you for your patience with our system…and God bless you.

      • standtall909

        Thanks so much for answering so quickly. I was afraid I did something wrong:) I will keep tabs on it. God Bless you as well and again thank you for this wonderful ministry and site!

        • LizEst

          My pleasure! To God be the glory! Thanks for patience. Figured we’d give you the long explanation since it’s easier to understand when you have all the information. Technology can be a little scary sometimes! It gets me, too! ; )

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