The dentist’s office is not my happy place. Not even in the same zip code. Or hemisphere. When the hygienist checks my blood pressure and tells me it’s a little high, I try and act surprised. She doesn’t know that my anxiety is about ready to make my head explode the minute they wrap that little napkin around my neck.
This week when I went in for my regular exam, I had a big ‘ol cold sore on my upper lip. You can probably guess how comfortable that was going to be when they’re stretching my mouth open, right?
This very sweet hygienist was trying to get the “bite wing” X-rays taken of my mouth. Bless her. She just couldn’t get the plastic thingy in place and I tried to explain between takes that my mouth just could not close because of that plastic thingy. Again, bless her.
I felt the tears coming (the struggle is real, my friends), and I was wondering if I could just tell her that it wasn’t a good day for me to be at the dentist and I’d reschedule.
But then …
I remembered what I’d read earlier that morning about prayer and remembered that I had committed to put my learnings into action. APPLY what I knew to be truth. That meant I needed to pray.
So, I did. I asked God to make the rest of the exam as easy and pain-free as possible. And to send my blood pressure into normal levels.
It seemed so silly to pray about a dentist appointment, but here’s the deal …
Our little prayers are OK to pray.
John Ortberg has written a great book called “The Me I Want to Be.” (Seriously. Really great book.) That morning I’d studied the chapter, “Let Your Talking Flow into Praying.” He reminded me that we are never absent from God — He is with every word, every activity, every moment of our lives. (Check out Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”) Obviously, God knows what I’m going through under that big lead blanket with the plastic thingy in my mouth, big plastic glasses over my eyes, and a big honkin’ cold sore. So, I asked Him to turn the situation around and help me hold it together.
And He did. He met me in my messiness. (Why does that still surprise me sometimes? Good grief.)
My friend, our prayers matter. Yes, it’s important that we pray for the big deal things. And we are also taught, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything [including visits to the dentist], by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6).
In everything. John Ortberg explains it this way:
“I don’t wait to clean up my motives first. I don’t try to sound more spiritual than I am. I don’t pray what ought to be in me. I pray what’s really in me. The ‘in everything’ prayer is the most common kind in the Bible. I just try to attach one sincere rider: ‘Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.’”
That includes the visit to the dentist.
Thanks be to God.