Whether you just started training or are in the middle of a competition, the Bible has many verses to help keep any athlete motivated and centered. God’s Word can keep us humble when we are winning and uplift us when we are losing, but we must remember as Christians our race is a spiritual one. If you are looking for inspiration to keep you focused on the game and on God, here are some of the best Bible verses for athletes.
1 Peter 1:13–16
13. Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15. but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16. because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
The first thing any athlete must do is focus. Focus on your goal, focus on how to get there, focus on your knowledge of your sport. These verses tell us to prepare our minds, focus on Jesus’ grace, do not get distracted by our former sinful lives, and be holy in our behavior. If we apply this to not only to our walk with God, but our athletic endeavors, we will have a strong starting point to begin our training.
And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”
In this verse Jesus is responding to people who doubt his power. They do not believe he “can” and have lost faith in him so he reminds them that all things are possible if they believe. When we first start training we may come across those who doubt us, but it is up to us through hard work and believing in ourselves and in God to prove to them that we can.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
God wants us to prepare for battle against the forces of evil. We do this through salvation, prayer, studying the Bible, and being virtuous. As athletes we too must prepare. We must train our bodies, our minds, and our hearts for the battle ahead.
2 Chronicles 15:7
But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”
Sometimes we hit a low point during our training. Maybe we aren’t making weight or our time is off or we just feel like physically we cannot do something. This too can happen with our walk with God, but do not lose faith. The harder we work in training and in our faith the better our reward will be here on earth and in heaven.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
While we all desire to win, as Christians we should always want others to succeed as well. Do not be selfish, but be humble, just as Jesus was, and appreciate those who you compete with.
It is not good to eat much honey,
Nor is it glory to search out one’s own glory.
Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in trying to win that we lose sight of what really matters. God, our family, our friends, and our competitors should all come first. Winning is rewarding, but we should always be an example of Christ and not let that drive to win outshine our drive to love one another.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.
Fear is a powerful thing and when you are in the middle of competing it can be overwhelming. No matter how many opponents you face, know that God is with you and you can be strong in both your athletics and in your faith.
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
As an athlete we may face an opponent who we think may be impossible to defeat. Show them no fear, push it all aside, and know no matter the outcome God will always love you.
‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
God will never leave your side and because of this we as Christians are strong. Sometimes when we are competing we may feel alone or helpless and we may look around the crowd to find someone to give us the strength we need to carry on, but who we should always turn to first is God. For He is always there reaching out to give you the strength you need.
13. You pushed me violently so that I was falling,
But the Lord helped me.
14. The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.
Sports can be very physical at times and sometimes we get hit, hard. The Lord is our rock, our foundation, and though we may fall He will always be there to strengthen us so we can stand back up and continue the fight.
2 Timothy 2:5
Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.
Cheaters never win. Some may sneak it by the judges, refs, or spectators, but God will always know. While you may get glory here on earth, you will lose your rewards in heaven. Always play be the rules and be that shining beacon God wants you to be.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27. but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
In these verses Paul is telling us we should pursue God like an athlete pursues a win. Winning in the sport we choose to compete in is similar to being successful in living for the Lord. It is something we should always strive for and never give up on.
11. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 12. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13. and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
Sometimes we lose. We feel defeated or broken and we may have trouble wanting to get back into the game. What we need to do is learn from these experiences. Each loss is a chance to look back at what went wrong and build a stronger you.
23. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24. knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
No matter what happens we should do all things for the Lord. Sometimes we try our hardest and we don’t get the results we want, but we should always keep pushing ourselves in all things both spiritual and physical.
Your journey as an athlete can go hand in hand with your journey with God and I hope these Bible verses help you to find the strength you need for your next training session or competition. If you are looking for some other Bible verses to memorize check out these 10 Bible Verses You Should Know By Heart.
The verses above are from the New American Standard Bible. If you are looking for another version of the Bible you can find them here at the BibleGateway.
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