Maurice Packham raised a very important question on the nature of prayer (Letters, April 19).

Is prayer comparable with laying hands on David Beckham's photo in a tabloid newspaper or calling in the services of a White Witch to cast a spell for his recovery?

Prayer is more than asking a heavenly sugar-daddy to give us all we want for our own happiness.

It is, rather, the result of a personal relationship with God in which we can use prayer for discovering his will and sharing with him in fulfilling it.

I shall pray for David Beckham's foot, not because he is the captain of the England team but because he is a fellow human being in need.

As the Bible says: "You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 5: 2-3).

God does not give us all we think we want but what is in accordance with his overall plan. Our task is to find out what God's plan is by waiting quietly on him.

He will then show us how to pray and answer those prayers, perhaps using us to be the answer.

Prayer must flow from love, compassion and a desire to do God's will, not for him to bless our favourite team or to give us the easy life.

-Reverend John Webster, Gleton Avenue, Hove