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Talmud Berachot 12b says:

וְאָמַר רַבָּה בַּר חִינָּנָא סָבָא מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַב: כֹּל שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְבַקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים עַל חֲבֵירוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מְבַקֵּשׁ — נִקְרָא ״חוֹטֵא״. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״גַּם אָנֹכִי חָלִילָה לִּי מֵחֲטֹא לַה׳ מֵחֲדֹל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעַדְכֶם״.

And Rabba bar Ḥinnana Sava said in the name of Rav: Anyone who can ask for mercy on behalf of another, and does not ask is called a sinner, as it is stated following Samuel’s rebuke of the people: “As for me, far be it from me that I should transgress against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and the right way” (I Samuel 12:23). Had Samuel refrained from prayer, he would have committed a sin.

This seems to impose an obligation with no possible end. I know many people, and "the needs of your people are great" (Berachot 29b). Everyone needs prayer. So can't I always ask for mercy on behalf of another? Can I ever stop asking for mercy on behalf of those I know?

If I am aware my friend has a particular need (he is sick, or needs to get married, or wants children, or wants a better living, or wants his prayers answered or any of a gazillion other things), does praying for them just once fulfill my obligation? Once per day? Every tefilla?

  • perhaps one fulfills this obligation reciting the standard service, such as in shemoneh esrei and/or tachanun. – Loewian Jan 24 at 18:27
  • @Loewian, yet in OU Daf Yomi on this page, Rabbi Elefant discusses a community who is saying a Psalm for a sick person after minyan. The individual, R' Elefant claims, is obligated to join in here, rather than make up pars of davening he missed or do his own learning. If one fulfilled his obligation to pray for others through shacharit, that wouldn't be the case. – Ze'ev misses Monica Jan 27 at 15:53
  • I haven't seen this page by R' Elefant, but I assume he may be more concerned with the serious issue of one being poresh min hatzibbur - separating from the community. – Loewian Jan 27 at 15:58

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