By Becky Harling, Crosswalk.com
Anxiety, fear, and depression are all on the rise. In fact, according to a survey conducted by USA Today in 2021, the one thing Americans can agree on is that we’re having trouble staying sane. Anxiety is a mental health issue that has long been misunderstood by the church. Many pulpits have preached against anxiety, proclaiming that the Apostle Paul said we were not to be anxious about anything. Yet, many believers are struggling, and the last thing they need to be added to their anxiety is guilt. There is hope! In recent years, there have been some great Christian books on anxiety published. For believers who are wrestling with anxiety, these books can be a great encouragement.
What Does the Bible Really Say about Anxiety?
Before we get to the Christian books on anxiety, let’s first consider what the Bible has to say about anxiety.
The Psalmist David wrote, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” (Psalm 94:18). David wrestled with anxiety but had learned how to experience the presence of God to find comfort for his anxiety.
Even Jesus Himself felt anxious in the Garden of Gethsemane. Facing the cross, scripture tells us that Jesus “being in anguish, prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). The comfort found in this passage is that Jesus has felt our anxiety. He doesn’t condemn us for it; instead, He intercedes before the Father on our behalf. (Romans 8:34).
When Paul wrote to be anxious for nothing, a better translation might be don’t stay anxious. Feelings of anxiety will come. They are inevitable. However, becoming a prisoner to those feelings is optional.
According to Pastor Greg Groeschel, the word most often translated for anxiety is merimnao, which means “dwelling on fearful or anxious thoughts.” In other words, Paul is saying, don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t make anxiety your campground.
The Apostle Paul gave us a plan for when anxiety hits. His plan teaches us to shift our focus to God’s almighty character. In other words, Paul teaches us to turn our panic into praise (Philippians 4:6-8).
When panic hits, we are to lay our worries out authentically before the Lord and then shift our focus to His Almighty character. Maybe for you, that means praising your way through the Alphabet, or maybe it means praising your way through different names of Jesus, or using His I Am statements as a grid for your praise. The key is to shift your focus to what you know to be true about God. As you do, the Holy Spirit will calm your anxious heart.
Here are five encouraging Christian books on anxiety:
1. Psalms for The Anxious Heart by Becky Harling
I was asked to write this book for Moody publishers during the COVID pandemic. With uncertainty, fear, and anxiety on the rise, readers needed a place to go to find calm. The Psalmists also wrestled with anxiety. We can borrow their words in our own prayer lives when we feel anxious. The devotional includes a daily reading from scripture, a brief devotional thought, a prayer, and music to listen to prompt the reader's praise. It shows readers how to turn their panic into praise and find peace in the Lord’s presence.
2. Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow
This book is still one of Navpress’s best-selling books of all time! It has sold over 500,000 copies! It came out in 1998 but continues to sell well all over the world. Author Linda Dillow uses examples of women from all different cultures who have battled anxiety but have learned to trust God and find calm. A master storyteller, Linda combines Biblical truth with stories to keep the reader longing for more. Women wrestle with fear and worry constantly, yet this book shows readers that finding calm is possible when we lay down our worries and choose to trust God. The book is filled with practical suggestions that every reader will find helpful.
3. Anxious For Nothing by Max Lucado
Author Max Lucado brings such a loving and gentle spirit to all his writings. He encourages his readers to let go of guilt which is so helpful in the fight against anxiety. Max also teaches you how to exchange fear and trepidation with thanksgiving and peace. He claims that while anxiety is inevitable, it doesn’t have to be your prison. He also shows readers practically how to change the way they view stress, Find comfort in God’s sovereignty, embrace truth and focus on the positive. This book received a five-star rating from over 9,000 readers on Amazon!
4. Anxiety Elephants by Caris Snider
This is a 31-day devotional to help women stamp out anxiety in their lives. The book has been very well received and brings hope and reassurance that women are not alone in the journey of fighting anxiety. Caris incorporates scripture, real-life stories, and suggestions for when triggers go off, signaling an anxiety attack. Many who have read the devotional have found it helpful and hopeful in their journeys of anxiety and depression.
5. The Extraordinary Power of Praise by Becky Harling
If you’re wanting to dive deeper into how the Psalmists handled their anxiety, this is your book! This six-week study of the Psalms will encourage you in your journey to live victoriously over anxiety. The Psalmists felt anxiety, but they practiced a two-step approach, they poured out their hearts authentically to God, and then they shifted their focus to praising God for His Almighty character. The study includes reflective questions and suggested music to listen to each day.
A Few Key Ways to Deal With Anxiety
Learn to turn your panic into praise. Every one of these Christian books on anxiety point to the power of praising God and giving thanks to calm our anxious heart.
Let go of guilt. Feeling guilty over anxiety is not helping you! So rather than going to guilt, go to the Lord and take your worries to Him in prayer. As you lift your worries before the Lord, you will grow in your faith and increase your feelings of calm.
Lean into your prayer, people. Each of us needs close friends with whom we can be real. When anxiety feels crushing, we can reach out and ask for prayer.
Listen to praise music. There are so many great worship songs being released continually. Go to YouTube or Spotify and find worship songs to prompt your praise. Make it a practice to play worship music in your home, car, and workplace. Saturating your mind with songs of praise will calm your anxiety.
Last but certainly not least, if your doctor prescribes medicine, take it! Christians have at times, wrestled with whether or not it is right to take medicine for depression or anxiety. Here’s the thing: if you had strep throat or any other infection, you would take an antibiotic. Your brain is an organ and sometimes needs help. God ministers to us as body, soul, and spirit. If you are wrestling with anxiety for more than 30 days, visit your doctor and consider whether or not an antianxiety medicine is right for you.
Friend, with stress rising all around us, anxiety is probable, but it doesn’t have to become your prison. Consider purchasing some of the Christian books on anxiety suggested in this article. Gather a few friends and dive in together. That way, you’ll feel like you have support in the journey. Make praying and praising God consistent patterns in your life. When anxiety comes crashing in, turn your panic into praise. And, remember, if a doctor prescribes medicine, take it without guilt. God is cheering for you as you fight this enemy!
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Authentic. Passionate. Funny and Biblical all describe Becky Harling. A best-selling author, Becky is a popular speaker at conferences, retreats, and other events. She is the author of 11 books, including Psalms for the Anxious Heart, How to Listen so Your Kids Will Talk, and The Extraordinary Power of Praise. Her newest Bible study, Our Father, comes out this Spring. Becky is a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team and a seasoned Bible teacher. You can connect with Becky at www.beckyharling.com, www.harlingleadership.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/beckyharlingministries, Twitter, @beckyharling, or on Instagram at Becky Harling