A gif showing Superintendent Ted Hastings praying to God (“God give me strength”) has been posted on the BBC’s twitter account.
The gif reminds us that we too can say a prayer anytime, even in the middle of the fast paced, final episode of Line of Duty.
We may not have to face a Balaclava Man, a sinister “H” or untangle the lies of DCI Roz Huntley or Brexit anguish as Ted Hastings does. Yet I am sure many of us can identify with his frustrated and depressed state of mind as he battles bent coppers and sheer evil.
On top of all our personal stresses and challenges, we know face a potential nuclear world war three unleashed by Donald Trump and his advisors, the collapse of the eurozone and other problems, including, if we are British, the unelected EU’s outragoeus bullying over Brexit.
Like Hastings, we too can pour out our real thoughts to God, and ask him to give us what we need. Strength, light, energy, inspiraction, courage, perseverence, insight, beautiful things, true things, good things, whatever.
God will listen.
We don’t have to be in top form to say a prayer.
Wearing a polyester cotton shirt with oversized shoulder boards, Hastings says his prayer from inside some echoing chamber inside some gigantic office bloc in Birmingham, nothing more than a fleeting digital phantom in the latest BBC detective drama series. Here today, gone tomorrow.
Like him, we too can say our prayer wherever we happen to be, on the tube, in the street, the supermarket. The saints prayed with wild animals, in prisons, in flames and in the depths of the sea…
As Hastings wrings out his prayer while screwing up his eyes to not have to see the darkness around him, we feel his isolation, uncertainty, the consciousness of his own weakness.
We don’t have to be perfect to pray either.
Hastings uses just four words. We can also keep it short.
As long as we want what is good, God always answers our prayers. He may not always answer them as we think he should or in way as spectacular as, say, fervent prayer George Washington, who found four bullet holes in his jacket after one battle. Several horses had also been shot from beneath him, but he had not been harmed.
“‘By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation,’ George Washington wrote.
US army chaplain Carey Cash describes how God miraculously protected his battalion when they tried to seize the presidential palace in Baghdad. When the smoke of an eight-hour battle cleared, just one Marine had lost his life in spite of a firestorm of machine gun bullets and grenades coming from every angle.
Marines reported bullet holes through their helmets, yet they had been untouched.
Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell has described how his rifle always miraculously landed beside him after he lost it several times, tumbling over cliffs and rolling down through brush wood to escape the Taliban. He was sure, too, that was God’s protection.
I’m not saying God is a US Patriot or Marine. The point is God can do amazing things, deflect bullets fired from automatic rifles, rockets and grenades in the heat of a battle. He has the ultimate power to dispense life or death. He is the transcendent Creator of our world but he is also present everywhere (immanent) inside this world. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He wants to help us.
So, the next time we feel down like Ted Hastings, let’s do what he did and direct our focus to God and ask him for help too.
“God give me strength!”
We can also get a bit more formal and say the Lord’s Prayer.
We can get creative and make our own prayer corner out of a few pictures, a candle or whatever is at hand as Chaplain Sherri Snively was used to doing in Iraq.
In Larisa, there are little chapels in squares, streets and parks where people can light a candle.
This evening, dear readers, I will go into one and say a prayer for all of us.