Bible Study Resources - Tips, Online Bible Search, Devotions

Samaritan's Purse Shares Films from the Frontlines of Ukraine

Top 25 Bible Verses for Athletes: Best Scriptures for Sports

  • Whitney Hopler Contributing Writer
  • Updated Dec 01, 2023
Top 25 Bible Verses for Athletes: Best Scriptures for Sports

Discover the best Bible verses for athletes to inspire your dedication, perseverance, and strength! Find powerful motivation for athletes in the Word of God.

Experiencing athletics can strengthen your spiritual fitness along with your physical fitness. As you and your teammates practice together and compete in games, you need the motivation to do your best and – win or lose – to persevere. The Bible contains words to inspire and motivate you with any type of sport. Here are 25 motivating Bible verses for athletes.

Photo Credit: Getty/Paul Bradbury

Top Bible Verses for Athletes

2 Timothy 2:5 - “Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.”

2 Timothy 4:7-8 - "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."

Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Isaiah 40:31 - "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 - "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, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

Hebrews 12:1 - “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Psalm 18:29 - For by you, I can run against a troop and by my God I can leap over a wall.

Philippians 4:6 - “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Colossians 3:23-24 - “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Romans 15:5 - “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.”

Bible Verses about Dedication

Dedication to your sport and your relationship with God involves faithfully caring for the body God has created for you and focusing well on the time God has given you. Whether you’re training for a competition or developing a stronger faith, it’s important to be dedicated to the process.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 

Hebrews 12:11-12 - “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.”

Isaiah 41:10 - “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

1 Timothy 4:8 - “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Being fully present in each moment will also help you perform well as an athlete and help you notice the wonder of God’s presence with you. In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I describe how awe-inspiring moments from Olympic sports can change how we perceive time. Research studies I cite in the book explain that certain types of experiences – including athletic experiences – can cause people to feel a sense of timelessness in the present moment. Whether you’re practicing or competing in your sport, God is always with you.

sports sportsmanship shaking hands friendly competition tennis

Bible Verses about Sportsmanship

When you’re practicing sportsmanship, you’re not looking out only for yourself, but also for others. You do your best to get along well with your teammates and work together toward shared goals. You respect your competitors and wish them well as people, regardless of who wins or loses in your games.

Philippians 2:3 - “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” 

2 Timothy 2:5 - “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” Playing according to the rules involves abiding by values of respect, integrity, and fairness.

Philippians 2:3 - “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

Bible Verses about Trusting God, Win or Lose

In any sports game, you may either win or lose. The Bible encourages you to approach competitions by simply doing your best and trusting God with the outcome of your efforts.

Colossians 3:23-24 - “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Deuteronomy 31:6  - “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Psalm 37:23-24 - “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand."

Isaiah 40:29-31 - “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.” 

Matthew 11:28 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

When you win your games, you can celebrate with joy because God celebrates with you.

Zephaniah 3:17 - “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

When you lose your competition, you can be confident that you still have a hopeful future from God. 

Jeremiah 29:11 - “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Romans 8:28 - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Proverbs 3:5-6 - “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."

Win or lose, God will continue to guide you to what’s best as you trust him.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/luckyraccoon 

Bible Verses about Finishing Well

Participating in any sport can help you understand the strength that’s required to run the race of faith well, all the way to the end of your life. Jesus himself is waiting for you at the finish line, with heavenly rewards that are better than earthly prizes like trophies or medals.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 -  “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 - “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” 

James 1:12 - “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." 

Galatians 6:9 - “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

How To Praise God Through Sports

These sports Bible verses can help you see how God is the ultimate source of strength, and recognition of God's gift of athletic ability brings praise to Him. God created the strong body you use to play sports, and God stands ready to give you all the spiritual, mental, and emotional strength you need to train and compete well as an athlete. 

Philippians 4:13 - “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."

Colossians 3:17 - "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."

Philippians 3:12-14 - “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 11:36 - "For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen."

Ephesians 6:10 - “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

In whatever sport you play, whether training or competing, you can discover the wonder of God’s presence with you. The awareness that your mighty God is right there beside you can encourage you in any circumstances – win or lose. As an athlete, you’ll always grow stronger with God cheering you on!

Photo Credit: © Getty Images / Paul Bradbury 

headshot of author Whitney HoplerWhitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on X/Twitter and on Facebook