One of the great movie clips of all time is the scene of Eric Liddle running his 1924 Olympic race in Chariots of Fire. He wins the gold medal, finishing way ahead of everyone else. As he runs he’s clutching a piece of paper with a message from the Bible, looking up into the heavens, and laughing with joy! His whole body is exuberant, arms flailing freely while running, as he exclaims, “When I run I feel God’s pleasure!”
Most people endure the race to get to the finish line. They pursue their goals in the same way, grinding the work out to achieve success. I’ve lived that way much of my life. But look at how Eric Liddle runs! More important than his gold medal victory is the the way he runs. For him the race is to run with Jesus and he runs it with joy!
I want to live my life the way Eric Liddle ran his Olympic race — with Jesus, freely and joyfully giving glory to God! “To glorify God and enjoy him forever” is the purpose of life, as the opening of the Westminster Catechism declares.
Training to Run or Walk with Jesus
One of the things I do to help me live my life in the spirit of Eric Liddle is to run with Jesus literally. I’ve been running for 32 years and have finished seven marathons to date. I especially love running on trails in remote places or in parks, but even on neighborhood streets I find the solitude and silence with Jesus so enriching for my soul and my ministry. (I have other articles with the tag Run with Jesus.)
If you’re not a runner, don’t be discouraged! You can do the same spiritual exercise by walking with Jesus — or hiking, biking, swimming, weight lifting, or doing yoga. The idea is to get your body moving in a direction while you pray about your spiritual progress.
Prayer walks and jogs with Jesus remind us that our whole life is a journey, a progression, a spiritual pilgrimage.
Use Scripture on Your Prayer Walk
When we pray most of us struggle with wandering thoughts! How to stay focused?
Moving your body can help to calm and center your mind. What especially helps is to use Scripture. While you walk or run memorize Scripture and then meditate on it for prayer and intercession. For instance, I’ve found it very profitable to use both long “Electric Passages of the Bible” and very short “Breath Prayers from the Bible.”
In this Bible Study I’d like to share you some special Scriptures (from the NIV84 unless indicated otherwise) that are themed on running, training, or taking a path. Years ago in my times of extended solitude and silence with Jesus I stumbled on the power of “Praying a Psalm in its Nature Setting.” This Bible Study carries that same theme into running. By memorizing and then meditating on selected Scriptures related to running while running it greatly enhances your experience of learning from God’s word and connecting with Jesus!
Running for exercise and enjoyment is good, but it’s much better to run with Jesus! I’ve found that running with Jesus helps me to live for Jesus.
Bible Verses to Help you Run with Jesus
O Lord, “You have madeknown to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)
“With God’s help I can overcome in this battle; with my God I can run through a wall. God’s road stretches out before me straight and smooth. His words form a good path and everyone who runs towards him makes it… It is God who makes me strong to finish the race well.
“Thank you Lord! You make my feet like the feet of a deer so I can run with you into the high places of your kingdom… You clear the way and give me firm footing so that I don’t fall and get injured… Your right hand sustains me — you stoop down to make me great!
“The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, my Savior!” (Psalm 18:29-30, 32-33, 36, 35, 46, par)
“I run to you God; I run for dear life.” (Psalm 31:1, MSG)
“Let me run loose and free, celebrating GOD’s great work, Every bone in my body laughing, singing, ‘GOD, there’s no one like you.’” (Psalm 35:9, MSG)
“The spacious, free life is from GOD, it’s also protected and safe. God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil — when we run to him he saves us.” (Psalm 37:39-40)
“Be good to me, God — and now! I’ve run to you for dear life. I’m hiding out under your wings until the hurricane blows over. I call out to High God, the God who holds me together. He sends orders from heaven and saves me, he humiliates those who kick me around. God delivers generous love, he makes good on his word.” (Psalm 57:1-3, MSG)
Thank you God. “Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play.” (Psalm 63:7, MSG)
Yes, Lord, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (Psalm 119:32)
“But GOD, dear Lord, I only have eyes for you. Since I’ve run for dear life to you, take good care of me.” (Psalm 141:8)
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 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 40:28-31)
“Do not worry about your physical well-being. People who don’t know any better run after all the things they want, but your Heavenly Father knows your needs. Run for his kingdom and his righteousness then everything that you need will be taken care of.” (Matthew 6:32-33, par)
“Jesus saw that a crowd was running to him.” (Mark 9:25, par)
“With Jesus… Live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:30, par)
“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 a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I [train] my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
“We run by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, par)
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free… You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:1, 7)
“I pray that you hold out the word of life with me — in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” (Philippians 2:16, paraphrased from NIV84)
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
“Train yourself to be godly. 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 4:7-8)
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)
“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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)