Wisdom Teeth and Stupid Prayers

I had my wisdom teeth out yesterday morning.  It was awful.  To each person, especially every student in our office Tuesday who I surveyed, thank you for saying it wasn’t that bad.

I appreciate that you said it.  It kept me much calmer than I would have been otherwise.  Because I was quite scared of the whole process.  I’ve never been put to sleep, but I also hate, hate, HATE any dental procedure in which you stay awake.

But it was that bad.

The moment I finished hearing the typical risks from the surgeon, I began to cry, and could not stop.  I must have stopped once I was asleep, I assume.  But the moment I woke up in the recovery room, I started to cry again.  I got home, fell asleep.  Woke up.

Cried. Again.

Went to change the gauze.

Cried.

And felt terrible and nearly fainted.

Changing of the gauze round 2.

Cried.

And that is when I began to pray stupid prayers.  They sounded like this, God I know that nothing is actually that wrong with me.  It just hurts and it’s no fun.  But MAKE IT STOP.  TAKE IT AWAY.  NO MORE.

I firmly believe we can come to God with all sorts of prayers.  And I trust that he is kind enough to hear them and not hold them against me.  He might, given just how tremendous his love is, actually answer me.  But the prayer is still a teeny bit stupid.

Maybe there’s a better example.

Last Sunday my husband had tickets to see his A’s (who won!) play the Angels (boo.)  We left a bit later than we typically do for a game, since we had some things to finish up at church.  (Ok, ‘we’ means ‘me’.  And the truth is, Curtis LOVES to get to a game in time for batting practice.  A fact I ought to know after three years of marriage, but I forgot.)

So we’re late to the game, and he’s bummed, but trying to be nice.  And I’m sorry, but just wanting it to go away.

Enter stupid prayer.

I actually prayed for God to make the first inning so long that we’d be there by the top of the 2nd.

More than once.

I knew it was a stupid prayer, which is why I started by saying, God, this is most certainly the lamest thing I’ve prayed in my seminary trained life, maybe my whole life.  And I know Somalia is way more important right now, but I feel like a bad friend to my husband, and a long first inning would fix that.  And you’re powerful enough to do both, right?  

But if I have to choose between stupid prayers or dignified ones, I pick stupid ones.  Because when I find myself trying to force the choice, as if one is good and one is bad, I miss the point.  God invites us to bring every situation and circumstance to him in prayer.  When we do, God not only begins to act and move in our real lives, but God also changes us when our requests are misguided.

Ben Patterson says, “Prayer is more that a tool for self-expression, a means to get God to give us what we want. It is a means he uses to give us what he wants, and to teach us to want what he wants. Holy Scripture in general, and the Psalms in particular, teach us who God is and what he wants to give.”

The last thing I remember before the IV kicked in was God shifting my attention from my fear to the courage of some friends in my church have recently or still are fighting serious illness.  I thought of how often Collin has gone under for surgeries and how much grace Tammy is showing and how lovely her girls are.  I hiccuped one last sob, took a deep breath, and that was that.

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