Today in Sr. Design, Dr. Hellmuth repeated something from last week’s devotion–that prayer is a privilege. I remembered him saying that it is a great privilege, and that we should treat it as such, and exercise it as often as possible. That got me thinking, about rights and exercising rights, something which Ziggy and I have had a few conversations about. That sparked me to think about the difference between a privilege and a right.
When Ziggy and I discussed rights, he was always, or at least often, an advocate of execising rights simply because you have them. While his argument was actually that if you don’t exercise them, they’ll be taken away, that’s not the issue that I’m writing about today. My stance was always that I’ll exercise my rights if it is convenient or something that I want to do, rather than as a matter of principle. I don’t carry a knife with me, ever, even though that is my right. In fact, rights are more often than not left unused, until such a time arises that it becomes necessary, or convenient, or what-have-you.
Dr. Hellmuth, though, along with countless other teachers and preachers I’ve heard along my years, insisted that prayer is a great privilege from God, and that we should always make the best of it. It occured to me that a privilege is a gift whereas a right is something that you can expect. Human beings deserve to be given equal opportunity. Americans deserve being able to voice their opinions. Rights are not bestowed, they are assumed, and ignoring rights is considered “inhumane,” or barbaric, or politically backwards. Privileges, on the other hand, are earned. You work for your privileges. A child, for example, may have to clean his room to earn his privilege to play in the backyard, and if he fails to prove himself worthy, the privilege is taken away and he is forced to sit in his room until he cleans it. Some privileges, though, are a gift. We humans, Christians or not, have done nothing to deserve direct access to the throne of God, nothing whatsoever to deserve his ear.
He did, however, give us that privilege anyhow. That strikes me as still one more excellent thing that God has done for us. Not only has He died for us undeserving whelps, but He lets us talk to Him directly! And, just as a little kid wants to go out and play, to exercise the privilege that mom or dad has given Him, we, God’s children, should always be quick to pray, because it’s something that God gave to us for us to use, not neglect, and we should take advantage of his kindness. Remember that it is not your right to pray, it is your privilege. And even though we never earned that privilege, God gave it to us anyhow, and we should treat it as something that we earned ourselves.