These inspirational Bible verses for runners and other athletes will encourage and strengthen the athlete in your life as they play sports.
Before my son, Will, ran in multiple competitive races as part of the cross country team at his school, I didn’t realize how challenging it was to do something that sounded so simple: crossing the finish line.
As I was thinking about his senior season this year, I remembered the movie Chariots of Fire. One of the central characters in that film was Eric Liddell, a runner who received an Olympic gold medal and later became a Christian missionary.
Liddell understood the challenges of striving toward a goal. He experienced the hard work and perseverance required to reach the end of the race. He knew the frustrations and pain that could sometimes result: victory came at great cost.
But in the end, he experienced the joy of victory. Liddell trained intensely for his Olympic races and faithfully honored God in his race of faith.
Becoming a successful long-distance runner actually requires a lot of strict training. Runners challenge themselves from a physical perspective and must develop both physical and mental self-discipline as they pursue high levels of “bodily training” (as Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:8). It’s hard work to be a runner; good athletes know that it takes perseverance.
As I thought about how I could support my son, especially on the hard days when the race doesn’t turn out the way he’d hoped, I realized that Scripture actually has a lot to say about physical training and perseverance. I shared several motivating Bible verses with him and so I wanted to share them with you as well.
Pick a few of these verses to encourage the runner or any athlete in your life.
25 Bible Verses for Runners
Biblical Verses to Share Before Running a Race
Those verses can be great encouragement from God’s Word to share before runners run on the race course.
1. Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race God set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
2. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
3. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 NKJV
4. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5 NIV
5. Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 ESV
Bible Verses for Giving Glory to God Through Running
In the Christian life, we are called to do each task for the Lord, even if it is difficult, and even if we don’t get earthly “rewards” for it.
There have been times when my son wishes he’d had a better run or been a medal holder, but it’s helpful to be reminded that his hard work is worth it because it helps him grow as a person.
6. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV
7. Work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord and not merely for your masters, remembering that it is the Lord Christ who is going to pay you, giving you your full portion of all he owns. He is the one you are really working for. Colossians 3:23-24, TLB
8. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 ESV
9. It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. Proverbs 25:27 ESV
Bible Verses for Perseverance and Endurance in Running
A runner needs God’s help! Running can be exhausting, not only physically but mentally as well. Here are some options for a great Bible verse for endurance when running a race:
10. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31
11. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees… Hebrews 12:11-12 ESV
12. Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 CSB
13. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4
Scriptures for the Finish Line
14. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-9
15. I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 CSB
16. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
In this passage from 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul was talking about how to be effective at preaching the gospel. It’s interesting that he compares sharing the Good News of God’s Son Jesus with the endurance required for running and winning a race.
Five Psalms About Running
17. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. Psalm 18:33 ESV
18. With your help, I can advance against a troop; with my God, I can scale a wall. Psalm 18:29 NIV
19. I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding. Psalm 119:32 NIV
20. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip. Psalm 18:36 ESV
I also love how the NIV translates this verse: You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.
21. He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers. Psalm 78:14-16 NIV
Bible Verses about Running the Race of Faith
22. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 ESV
23. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work. (This applies to any “woman of God” as well!) 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
24. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 CSB
25. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 NIV
I hope you’ll find a few new favorite Bible verses fro this list to share with the runner in your life!
Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, the English Standard Version; the Christian Standard Bible; The Living Bible; the NKJV, and the New International Version.