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John Piper's Beautiful Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five

Liz Kanoy | Senior Editor | Published: Aug 08, 2016

John Piper's Beautiful Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five

Tragically on Sunday July 31, 2016, an entire family entered heaven together.  Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their three young children Ezra (3 years old), Violet (23 months), and Calvin (2 months) were preparing to travel to Japan this October as missionaries. But in an interstate construction zone in western Nebraska a semi truck rear-ended the family’s car killing the family at the scene that Sunday. The semi truck driver survived and has been charged with five counts of felony motor vehicle homicide. People Magazine also reported on the accident.

Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis celebrated the unwavering faith of Jamison and Kathryne Pals on August 6, 2016. John Piper, delivered the pastoral prayer as shared by

O Lord, God of might and mercy and mystery, you have driven the arrows of your quiver into the breast of your people, your beloved. You have filled our throat with bitterness and gall. You have made our teeth grind on gravel, and laid us down with wounds in the ashes of dreams.

You have taken away our sleep, and replaced our gladness with groaning. You have covered us with the shadows of those we love, and we have reached out in vain to touch their bodies.

Happiness has left through the window where the rain pours in, peace has put her hand on the latch, and endurance wavers at the threshold of our soul.

A voice is heard, like Rachel’s — lamentation and bitter weeping. Where is the comfort for her children, because they are no more. You have spared us — us who have lived out our days through no merit of our own, who would happily have finished our course and taken their place, but you have not spared the children, or the valiant, young lovers and your most loyal servants.

O Lord, our eyes are on you. We do not look to another for hope. To you alone. To you we cry. Remember our affliction, remember the bitter wormwood and the gall! You have not made us drink this cup in vain.

This we call to mind, and therefore we have hope: Your steadfast love, O LORD, never ceases; your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. You alone, O Lord, are our portion, therefore we will hope in you.

You are good to those who wait for you, to the soul who seeks you. You are good today. You were good last Sunday. We are waiting, we are looking for the salvation of the Lord. We are not running from the yoke of this dark providence, or throwing off the burden of your good sovereignty. But we are waiting, and looking, for the yoke to be made easy and the burden light.

You do not hide yourself forever. Though you cause grief, you will have compassion, according to the abundance of your steadfast love; for you do not afflict from your heart, or grieve the children of men.

We know your heart, O God. For there is nothing in the world more bright, more blazing, more terrible, more beautiful, more bloody, more hopeful, than the revelation of your heart in the death and triumph of your Son, Jesus.

For these parents — grandparents, great-grandparents — who sit with pieces of thread in their hands from a fabric of life woven from the womb, and then consumed. Father, we ask that you would sustain in their hearts an unshakeable confidence that the countless hours of investment in Jamison and Kathryne and the children were not in vain. Because your promise in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that their labors were not in vain is built with a mighty “therefore” on the massive foundation of the greatest chapter in the Bible about the blood-bought resurrection of Christ and his people from the dead.

And we pray for these brothers and sisters of Jamison and Kathryne that in spite of the sudden and horrific severing of priceless sibling ties they will feel the unbreakable bond that binds them still through the brotherhood of Jesus, who said, “Who are my brothers and sisters? Here are my brothers and sisters! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Lord, cause this family to know and feel: This circle is not broken.

And finally, we pray for Japan, that the great idols of gold and silver and material success would fall before the blood of this family — that these five, even these three little ones, who have now grown to the fullness of their glory and the perfection of beauty, not through the trials of three score and ten, but in the twinkling of an eye — that these all — all five — might be found among the champions of the victory of the gospel in Japan.

In the name of Jesus and for his glory, Amen

To listen to or read John Piper’s prayer for the Pals family in its entirety please visit

Jamison and Kathryne Pals kept a blog called For the Joy of Japan, which you can visit at Even in just reading a few posts you can see their heart for the Lord and their heart for mission work. Jamison wrote this in one post,

The thing that makes Christian missions unique is Jesus Christ.  The work of Christian missions is making him known in places and among people where he is not yet known; worshipped where he isn’t yet worshipped; obeyed where he isn’t yet obeyed; loved where he isn’t yet loved.  In other words, missions is the work of “mak[ing] disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And, behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


“God himself is the One who reaches the unreached, making the logic of passages like Romans 10:13-15a striking, “‘For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”

In his wisdom, the Lord has chosen to carry out the work of reaching the unreached and discipling the nations, through those who go to preach and those who send them to do so.  The logic is inescapable.  The Lord has commissioned the work, promised to complete the work himself and then said he will do it as the gospel is proclaimed from by weak and frail people like us, who are sent by people like you.  That is how God has said he will reach the unreached.”

Jamison and Kathryne Pals dedicated their lives to working for the gospel, to give God glory through everything. Their lives are an encouragement to fellow believers that whatever we do in life should be for God’s glory. Let us continue to pray for the Pals family—for the friends, family members, and church family that mourn and miss them. Pray also for Japan, for the people who are living there without the gospel, and pray for missionaries who have been called to deliver the good news. May more and more people delight in delivering that news whether it be next door or across the ocean.

Related article:
How to Pray with a Global Perspective

Publication date: August 8, 2016

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Liz Kanoy is an editor for

John Piper's Beautiful Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five