The assertion “It takes 21 days to form a new habit” is often accepted as scientific fact, but a 2009 study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found it usually takes much longer. In the study, participants tried building a new habit such as regular exercise or increased water consumption. The researchers discovered that, on average, it took 66 days to form a habit, and some habits took as long as 254 days (eight months!) to take hold.
As we saw yesterday, prayer is a particularly difficult habit. Today’s passage gives us the much-needed encouragement to press on. Here, we have encouragement to faithful intercession because the Lord Himself welcomes it. Jesus gathers His disciples to tell them this parable for one reason: “To show them that they should always pray and not give up” (v. 1). When prayer seems difficult, we must remember that our Lord stands nearby, encouraging us. All of His commands to pray— continually (1 Thess. 5:17), always (Eph. 6:18), and in every situation (Phil. 4:6)— are the Lord’s loving invitations. We can never nag or exasperate a God who bids us to “give him no rest” (Isa. 62:7).
And we are not alone. The widow in the parable was given by Jesus as an encouraging example. Elsewhere, Scripture reminds us of other persistent intercessors. Abraham repeatedly asked God to spare Sodom (Gen. 18:23–32); Elijah prayed earnestly for rain (James 5:17–18); and the apostle Paul interceded for the Thessalonians night and day (1 Thess. 3:10). Most of all, we look to Christ Himself who “always lives to intercede” (Heb. 7:25). Prayer may be a hard habit to form, but we have plenty of role models. Let us always pray and not give up!