‘Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ (See also verse 8).

Not everything said about you is true. Not everything you say about you is true. We can hear lies, and they can depress us. We are not ultimately defined by anything anyone says about us other than God. Be careful what you believe.

Three times in this chapter Pharaoh accuses the slave-driven Israelites of being “lazy.” That is a bit rich when you consider the details surrounding his accusation.

Simply to say this: you may well find the finger of a pharaoh-like conscience wagging at you whenever you endeavour to make time to pray (in obedience to God’s own Word). Or perhaps as you try to observe a weekly rhythm of Sabbath.

There may even be other Christians who think you are slacking if you spend much time in intercession. (But anyone who has attempted to make a serious business of prayer knows what hard work it actually is!) I think of Paul’s words about Epaphras: “He is always wrestling in prayer for you…” (Colossians 4:12b). I used to watch the wrestling with my dad when I was a kid – regular Saturday afternoon entertainment for him. In my memory, wrestling conjures up images of perspiration.

The devil is a ruthless opponent and he has a vested interest in trying to choke your prayer life. If the accusation that you are lazy works, then he’s going to use it.

I don’t remember the exact quote, but in ‘Brothers, we are not professionals’, John Piper said there is something counter-cultural about the sight of a pastor kneeling beside a desk piled high with papers. He has lots to do, but he’s going to prioritise time on his knees. He’s not going to allow the cry of the urgent to drown out the call of the all-important.