Don't Overthink It
Rachel Olsen

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my life – and I'm running out of time to figure it out. What if I never find it? Will I always be unhappy and unfulfilled? Will I never achieve my purpose? What will God do about that – will He call me a bad servant? But I can't help it. Why doesn't He answer my prayers for direction?

Maybe I'm just too sinful or something. I know I should read the Bible more. Is this limbo I'm in some kind of punishment for that? Am I really so much worse than everybody else? Maybe I just don't have any special gifts or talents. Or they just never got developed. Maybe that's it, and maybe now it's too late. So what do I do now? I don't know what I'm supposed to do …

Does this resemble your thinking sometimes? Perhaps not about your calling, but about finding a spouse, or affording a house, or exercising regularly, or a conflict with your mother or boss. Do you tend to overthink things? To worry and ruminate? To endlessly, passively, excessively ponder the meanings, causes and potential consequences of your problems? Do you dwell on them?

Many of us believe that when we feel down about something we should try to evaluate our feelings and our situation from every angle to attain insight and find solutions to relieve our unhappiness. However, a host of research in the last 20 years has shown that dwelling on thoughts like this creates negative outcomes: it sustains or worsens sadness, fosters negative thinking, depletes motivation, saps energy, interferes with concentration, and typically impairs our problem-solving.

Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky writes: "Although people have a strong sense that they are gaining insight into themselves and their problems during their ruminations, this is rarely the case. What they do gain is a distorted, pessimistic perspective on their lives." She adds, "You need to free yourself from the clutch of your ruminations – in other words, immediately stop overthinking."

Based on what he wrote in Philippians 4:6-13, I think the apostle Paul would agree with the professor. Pause and scroll down to read the whole passage now in the "Power Verses" below and then come back.

As we see, in verse six, Paul gives three clear instructions for those of us who ruminate on our problems. He says:

1) do not worry about anything
2) pray about everything
3) thank God for everything

What if today we took this instruction to heart and put it into practice? What if today we decided not to worry about anything? What if when we found ourselves worrying, we stopped and handed the situation over to God in prayer? What if we then thanked Him for taking care of the issue?

In fact, what if we spent most of our mental free-time today thinking about what good care our awesome God takes of us?

What if we counted our blessings and God's acts of faithfulness today – and again tomorrow and next week too? What would happen then?

Paul says in verse seven, we will begin to experience amazing peace – a kind of peace we can't even imagine. Peace that makes no earthly sense! This kind of peace is so powerful that it has a protective function on our hearts and minds – which only makes it easier for us to stop worrying and be thankful.

That sounds like a state of happiness to me! So let's not over-think it today. Let's not under-pray it either. Let's actively choose to have a happy, thankful day. And then let's get up tomorrow and do it again.

Dear Lord, I'm turning over all my fears and problems to You to handle today. I can't fix a single thing by worrying about it - but You can fix anything because nothing is impossible for You! Thanks for being in charge of my day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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Application Steps:
Open your Bible and highlight Philippians 4:6-7. Memorize those two verses.

Do I generally think about what is good, lovely, pure and right –or do I think about what is flawed, frustrating, unfair and wrong?

Day-to-day do I tend to over-think and under-pray? How often do I express gratefulness?

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:6-9, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you." (NLT)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost count of the situations I am in right now so I completely 'get' today's post.
So I will continue to focus on the Power Verse.
thank you.

Anonymous Joni said...

oh wow wow wow - this is exactly me the past few weeks and I really needed to read this and take it to heart today ! Praise God !!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much I needed this today. Thank you for such an awesome devotion.

Blogger Merrilyn said...

This was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you for letting God use you to speak to me! I especially love the Bible translation you used for the Power Verse. I think I'm going to write it out and put it where I will be sure to see it every morning.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be talking about me! Thank you for sharing God's message with me today!

Anonymous Linda said...

Thank you for the devotion.

I do tend to worry about things and really needed this devotion. I will remember your three things-don't worry, pray over all things and then thank God. In fact, I think I will write these things out and post them in my kitchen!

Blogger Beth said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going through some really tough situations right now that have been going on for the past year and I really needed to be reminded (again) to pray more and think less, all of you writers at Proverbs 31 are a blessing to me. I thank you again for the verses and wisdom you shared today.

Anonymous trina said...

Been trying to get this in my heart and mind. thank you for helping God use proverbs31 to remind me all things are possible through Him. Thank u

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so prone to this, have been doing exactly all of this for over a year now and I am worn out. I feel further away from God, frightened and so aware of the mistakes and mess I have made. Aching over a lost realtionship. Very low in spirit and crying out for that peace. No idea what I should do or how things will work out but needing friends, God and reassurance. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just what I needed.
Bless the LORD.

Blogger Rachel Olsen said...

I thank God this devotion spoke to so many today.

Praying God's peace, grace and protection to blanket each of you.

All my Best ~ Rachel

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devotion came at the right time! Of course God is that way! I've been down and discouraged about the physical pain and problems I've been going through. My husband is not any help in that area. I'm still trying to heal from his 14 years of infidelity. So this devotion spoke to me today when I was ready to give up. Thank you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful reminder, or instruction that God has provided. I have been crying out for 6 months, as I have been dealing with a fairly new affliction~ Panic attacks and anxiety. I cling to these verses and am comforted to know that I am not alone in my habit of worry. Thank you for this devotion, it fits exactly where I am and is an encouragement of where and who I can be in Christ.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Rachel for reminding me of the peace that I am yearning for I am so grateful to know I'm not alone. I'm single and ready to settle down, but God is in control and I need to remember that. To all Matthew 6:33, is a help to me when I start to become a worry wort. Bless you all.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first few questions are exactly what I've been struggling with lately! What am I supposed to do with my life?!!! Thank you, this was great encouragement!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Rachel,

what do you do when you're so overwhelmed with life's circumstances, that you cant even pray, except to say, Lord please help me. I choose not to express my deepest concerns with anyone as they are too close to home and I Just dont know what to do right now.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

...a WOW God moment for me!! I read this post right at a moment, when I was feeling so low for allowing my circumstances, and situations get the best of me! I had been complaining to myself, and God... And then something happened the day before, that although it eased some stress, it made me think of all the opportunities, I had missed to praise him through the storm.. I was thinking so along the lines of your post... Then, just when I was sitting at my desk at work, praying as I worked, in popped this post... As I read it, I realized that God was showing me that I worry way too much about too many things.. and what Satan wants to tell me is MY fault, isn't at ALL.. God is in full control... And as I prayed, adding my own adlibs to the prayer, I held a sticky note pad in my hand, that represented all my situations, issues,etc... I said God here's my problems... I am giving them to you!! Then I laid them on the side of my desk for him to retrieve.. while that sounds silly to some, it helped me to get on with my day, and have a new perspective on my life!! Thanks a bunch Rachel for listening to God's voice!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God is SO good! I continue to be amazed at God's greatness and speaking through these daily devotions.. It is so often exactly what I need to hear! I was just emailing a friend yesterday worrying about a situation in my life.. reading this will help me to always hand over my worry to God and thank Him for taking that worry off of my shoulders!

Blogger Quilting Mama said...

This is the perfect devotion for me right now as I go through some difficult times with my spouse. I will type it up to put on the fridge to see everyday. I keep telling myself the outcome is in God's hands but it is so hard not to analyze and worry about the situation. Thank you for reminding me to turn it over to God. Bless You!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my! You have been inside my head. It is like you wrote my thoughts word for word. Thank you for a solution. I would do anything to stop this constant worry. Please pray for me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are the thoughts I've been controlled by every day for most of my adult life! I turned 40 this year and was sad to realize that all that time I'd spent "thinking things through" over the years had gotten me nowhere. I'm no closer to being who God wants me to be...because I'm no closer to Him. I've tried many times to figure things out on my own - "What is God's purpose for me?" - without actually looking to Him in prayer or studying His Word. Silly of me, I know! Who do I think I am??!! This devotion is exactly what I needed...I will be clinging to these verses as I learn to keep my focus on praise & prayer and leave the direction and purpose of my life in God's hands.
Thank you!

Blogger Robin said...

Thanks for the post. I have an 8 year old who is a worrier. I am hoping that I can use this to help her in some way.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just fixed in one devotional lesson a struggle I have had for more years than I can count. I am a problem-solver at heart, which means I am constantly overthinking everything! I GET IT!! Thank-you so much!

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