Arthur Custance on Prayer

Arthur Custance (1910-1985) wrote 6 books and 62 papers on Christian subjects mostly from a scientific, anthropological or linguistic perspective. 2 of his papers were on prayer. On the Anglican lithurgy he wrote:

One day I returned to an Anglican service and was truly amazed to find how much "content" there was in the prayers and responses which I now entered into for the first time with some understanding of what had been in the minds of those who first formulated them.   In fact, I came to the conclusion that the people who wrote them must have been Christians!   Indeed, the more I thought about it and the more carefully I studied and used the Anglican prayers, the more I became convinced that a liturgical form of service could be (please note "could be" not "is") far more helpful and meaningful for a child of God than a service in which the same leading brethren are called upon in succession to offer their same heartfelt yet very limited prayers.
(from: The Place of Art in Worship, published 1966)

In 1972 Dr. Custance published "One Man's Answers to Prayer" in which he wrote about his personal experience with prayer.   The following example of the kindness of God occurred while Arthur Custance was attending the University of Toronto.

During my first university years, I took a study course in fine art and enjoyed it tremendously.   The professor used slides extensively.   One of his slides was of Constable's painting of Salisbury Cathedral.   Gothic architecture has always kind of overwhelmed me by its sheer beauty, and the setting of Salisbury Cathedral in this famous painting only increased this effect.   But I had not found in any book that I could afford a good reproduction of Constable's painting until, one day in downtown Toronto, I saw a British travel poster, about 18 inches by 24 inches in size, reproducing this very picture.   I went in at once and asked if I could buy it or obtain a copy somehow.   The proprietor told me that they were only loaned these posters for display, and they were in short supply and consequently were circulated among the different travel agencies.   He felt that the chances of obtaining a copy from England were rather slim.   So I abandoned the idea.

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds was painted in 1823 by John Constable (1776-1837).   The painting was commissioned as an official portrait of Salisbury Cathedral by John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury, an old family friend of the Constable family.

But then about a week later as I was travelling on the streetcar, I spotted another copy of the same poster -- in a Christian bookstore!   I got off the streetcar at the next stop and went quickly back to the store and, lo and behold! they were just beginning to clear the window out to re-decorate it.   I asked him what he planned to do with this poster, and he said, "Oh, I don't know. Why? Do you want it?"   I told him I did indeed.   He rolled it up without hesitation, slipped an elastic band over it, and gave it to me.   He said he had no idea how it had come into their possession.   And, as an example of difference in tastes, he had no particular interest in it.   I have this large poster still: framed, lighted, and displayed to good effect.   Had I not seen the picture in this Christian bookstore from the streetcar window, I'm almost certain it would have been thrown away.   Such is the Lord's kindness.

Read   One Man's Answers to Prayer by Arthur Custance
Trinity Anglican Church, Port Burwell Circle of Faith Rev John Langhorn, Pioneer Clergyman