Before I share the best Psalms for anxiety and fear, let me provide this encouragement: If you face anxiety, fear, or depression, God knows your experience. He keeps your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). You may feel like you’re passing through great darkness, but He is LIGHT for the darkness (Psalm 27:1).
The Psalmists faced seemingly hopeless situations as well. Enemies wanting to eat your flesh? Check. (See Psalm 27.) Evil men repeatedly tempting you to turn away from God? Check. (See Psalm 42.) The earth literally tearing apart at the seams? Check. (See Psalm 46.) And through it all, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
As you read through these Psalms, praise God for knowing your struggles and providing these Holy Spirit-inspired prayers to bring to Him. Also realize that this list is not comprehensive but just a sampling of some of the best and most powerful Psalms to pray in anxious times.
Ten of the Best Psalms for Anxiety, Worry, and Fear
1. Psalm 27 – A Prayer of Supreme Confidence in God
Psalm 27 is a Psalm of supreme confidence before the Lord. In the midst of adversity, David begins the Psalm proclaiming:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Even when the worst-case scenario plays out, like when evildoers assail David to eat his flesh (2) or the unimaginable of having his parents forsake him (10), David knows “the Lord will take [him] in.” When we have light in the darkness, salvation in adversity, and a stronghold in battle, we need not fear any situation. Knowing this is what leads David to worship. His deepest longing is to “dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (4). When your anxiety seems to much to handle, remember God is our salvation and will make your head lifted up above the enemies that surround you (6).
2. Psalms 42–43 – A Prayer for the Depressed and Cast Down
If you have ever felt depressed, longing for better days when God seemed so close, this Psalm is for you. The Psalmist cries out in a desert land thirsty for God (verse 1–2). He is far from Jerusalem, hearing his enemies cry out “Where is your God?” (verse 3, 10), and remembering the good times he had experienced with the people of God (verse 4). How does the Psalmist keep from despair? By preaching this key refrain to himself:
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. (42:5–6, 11; 43:5)
If you feel like you’re spiritually dying of thirst, take heart. There is ALWAYS hope in God, our salvation. When you feel depressed, preach that to yourself. And cry out to God to satisfy your famished soul.
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon on Psalm 42 from the Spiritual Depression series
- Listen to The Psalm Project’s rendition of Psalm 42
3. Psalm 46 – A Prayer to Make God Your Refuge in Times of Trouble
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah (Psalm 46:1–3)
Psalm 46 is a classic and powerful rejoicing in God our refuge. The earth may be falling apart, but we can run to God our refuge for safety. In times of fear, we can trust that He is “a very present help in trouble” (1) and “with us” (7, 11). Martin Luther wrote the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” in 1529 based on this Psalm. (Below is a neat performance of that classic hymn.)
4. Psalm 56 – A Prayer Remembering God Will Secure Your Steps
David wrote this Psalm while on the run from Saul and in danger from the Philistines (learn more about the situation in 1 Samuel 21:10–15). David opens with the cry “Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me” (1). David soon sets his eyes to God:
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me? (4; cf. 10-11)
If David is completely secure in the hands of His all-powerful heavenly Father, what can man do to him? The worst is take his life. But as Paul teaches, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), so our enemies will never have the ultimate victory. In this Psalm, David clings to God’s Word and is filled with strength. David knows of God’s promises to him and care for him (verse 8). Because of God his rock, Instead of getting shoved to the ground and trampled, God keeps David’s feet from falling “that I may walk before God in the light of life” (13).
5. Psalm 77 – A Prayer for Battling Anxiety by Remembering the Mighty Works of God
Asaph opens this Psalm crying aloud to God (1). “In the day of my trouble I will seek the Lord…my soul refuses to be comforted” (2). Asaph then confesses the depth of his anguish: “I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (4). Has God removed His favor, abandoned His promises, and shut up His compassion? Asaph wonders (7–9). The turning point for Asaph comes when he takes his eyes off of his situation and sets them on the glorious works of God from the past:
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord, yes, I will remember your wonders of old” (11)
Asaph brought to mind God’s glorious work in redeeming His people from Egypt, parting the Red Sea, and caring for His people in the wilderness.
Often during bouts with anxiety, our heart can’t stop meditating on our anxieties. What we need is a fresh perspective, a reason to worship God instead of question His goodness. When you battle anxiety, look to God’s mighty works in the past, don’t just focus on your little world. Look especially to the death and resurrection of Jesus, who is a new and better Moses leading the redemption of God’s children from slavery to sin to the Promised Land of heaven (see Hebrews 3:1–6).
6. Psalm 91 – A Prayer for Supreme Spiritual Protection
Psalm 91 is the go-to Psalm of deliverance for believers all over the world, and for good reason. The protection God offers is comprehensive:
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked. (Psalm 91:5–8)
He even “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (11).
We must not treat Psalm 91 like a lucky charm, however. Remember, the devil tempted Jesus with the words of this Psalm (verses 11 and 12) to put God to the test (see Matthew 4:1-11). Later on, evil men wound up crucifying Jesus Christ. Also, Jim Elliot (whose biography Shadow of the Almighty takes its name from verse 1 of this Psalm) died at the hands of violent natives. Some may wonder, why didn’t God protect His Son Jesus or Jim Elliot?
He actually did. The protection offered in Psalm 91 is better than mere temporal safety: it is the eternal protection of our souls. Our death in this life is just the passageway to an eternity of joy in God’s presence.
Now that’s what I call a glorious deliverance!
7. Psalm 112 – A Prayer for a Firm, Faithful Heart
This Psalm opens in praise, reminding readers of the source of God’s blessing: delighting in His commandments (verse 1). It continues to describe the blessing of the righteous, and how the “righteous will never be moved” (verse 6). Verses 7 and 8 show how the righteous man’s trust in God works to battle anxiety and fear:
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. (Psalm 112:7–8)
Look to God, delight in His Word, trust in His promises, and you will stand firm through adversity.
8. Psalm 119 – A Prayer Meditating on the Life-Giving Nature of God’s Word
I adapted this description from the chapter “I’m Too Stressed” in When Prayer Is a Struggle:
I asked a counselor friend of mine what Bible passages he recommends for those who are struggling with anxiety, and his response surprised me at first: “Psalm 119.” But then I quickly realized the wisdom of his recommendation—Psalm 119 is a lengthy meditation by the psalmist on his delight in God’s Word and the reflection of its power in his life. When I read Psalm 119, the psalmist’s words stir my affections for God and even help me to see the positive effects my anxiety can have if I submit it to the Lord: “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (v. 71). Psalm 119 reminds us that for those in Jesus, there is always an upside to our anxieties and suffering.
9. Psalm 121 – A Prayer of Comprehensive Deliverance from Our Divine Helper and Keeper
This Psalm of Ascents opens with the familiar words,
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (1)
God not only is our help in times of trouble (1-2), we can rest confident that He will keep us and “neither slumber nor sleep (3-4). He will keep and protect us both day and night (5-6). God is our help, protector, and deliverer in every situation and in every way. Summarizing verses 7-8, Dr. James Hamilton writes, “Yahweh will keep the entrance and the exit, the goings to and fro, the normal course of life, and Yahweh will do so in the present and in the future until the age to come.” This Psalm doesn’t promise a perfect life but does remind us that no spiritual harm can ever come to those in Jesus Christ.
Sermon on Psalm 121: From Seeing to Believing by Colin S. Smith
10. Psalm 131 – A Prayer of Peace and Enjoying God’s Presence
Psalm 131 is a psalm I turn to when anxious. Here’s what I shared in When Prayer Is a Struggle:
The attitude that God wants us to have when we pray is reflected in a powerful image from Psalm 131: “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me” (v. 2). A weaned child no longer approaches its mother solely for milk; a weaned child is there to enjoy its mother’s presence. Calming our hearts in order to spend time with God has never been more important than now, when our world grows noisier and more distracting by the day. But with conscious effort and a growing love for God, we will grow in focus—and we will pray.
No, Psalm 131 doesn’t mention worrisome situations directly, but it reminds me that peace begins in the presence of God.
God Our Refuge
You just saw the sampler platter of Psalms for battling anxiety, worry, and fear. Now go make these prayers your own!
Honorable mentions: Psalm 13, 15, 16, 23, 34, 125, 127, 133, 134