by Leslee Stewart

Throughout my life, I’ve heard turning 40 referred to in less than pleasant ways:

Over the Hill.
Middle aged.
Lordy, lordy, look who’s 40!

From grey hair (already got it), to adult acne (say what?), to extra chin hairs (thank you, Grandma!), most of the older women in my life have left me believing there is little to be desired when it comes to turning 40.

The big 4-0 arrives for me this month and since there’s nothing I can do to stop it, I’ve decided to embrace it.

Hey, world…I’m 40! (There, I said it.) 

To mark this once-in-a-lifetime occasion, my husband and I started a 40-day prayer challenge a few weeks ago (he hits 40 three weeks after me). We are reading “Praying the Circle: A 40 Day Prayer Challenge” by Mark Batterson. It’s a companion book to Batterson’s “The Circle Maker,” a book that has had a profound spiritual impact on us over the last two years.

There’s some big stuff on my prayer list for 2014 and this book is helping me pray about it in a way that is specific, exacting and dogged. I’ve come to a place where I’m not asking God once to answer my prayers; I’m petitioning Him every day, for 40 days, reminding Him of His promises and determined to hear from my Heavenly Father.

Spending time in this book and prayer each day got me thinking about the significance of 40 days in the Bible. Here’s a few interesting things I found:

  • Noah spent 40 days on the ark, waiting for God to deliver him to dry land (Gen. 7:12)
  • Moses spent 40 days on the mount, waiting for God to deliver the 10 Commandments (Exodus 34:28-29)
  • It took the spies 40 days to scout out the Promised Land before bringing back fruit (Numbers 13:25)
  • Jonah warned the people of Nineveh that if they didn’t repent, God would destroy the city after 40 days (Jonah 3:4)
  • Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, prior to beginning his ministry (Matthew 4:1-2)
  • After his resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples sharing the wisdom of God’s kingdom (Acts 1:3)

When I looked at the biblical events that occurred around 40 days, almost all of them had something to do with a trial, waiting on God, and trusting Him to deliver His children out of their present situation.

After reading these facts, I was reminded of Psalm 40, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. In it King David wrote,

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40: 1-3)

After reading through that chapter, and reflecting on all the miracles God performed related to 40 days, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that God has me focused on turning 40.

I believe He wants me to view this birthday as more than just a milestone on the calendar. He wants me to see it as He does – it’s a milestone that marks a turning point in my life – a milestone where I can look back in the future and recognize that the time I took now, just before my 40th birthday, to pray and petition God, was the beginning of something amazing.

So like David said in Psalm 40, I’m waiting patiently for the Lord to answer me. And even if my answers don’t come at the end of 40 days, I’m not going to stop. I’m going to keep circling the big things on my list, because I know that God has the ability to answer them anytime, anyplace, anyhow.

And that makes turning 40 feel fabulous!

Leslee Stewart is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She and her husband love the adventure of parenting and sharing their journey with others. When she’s not cheering her boys on at the ball field, you can find her in the aisles of HomeGoods adding to her throw pillow addiction. She loves cheap jewlery, junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” 

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