Orthodox Christians offer particularly fervent prayers for the departed on the first 40 days after death.
Traditionally, in addition to the service on the day of death, the memorial service is performed at the request of the relatives of an individual departed person on the following occasions: In addition to Panikhidas for individuals, there are also several days during the year that are set aside as special general commemorations of the dead, when all departed Orthodox Christians will be prayed for together (this is especially to benefit those who have no one on earth to pray for them).
Wherever there is a belief in the continued existence of human personality through and after death, religion naturally concerns itself with the relations between the living and the dead.
And where the idea of a future judgment or a Resurrection of the Dead or of Purgatory exists, prayers are often offered on behalf of the dead to God.
These particles are placed beneath the Lamb (Host) on the diskos, where they remain throughout the Liturgy.
After the Communion of the faithful, the deacon brushes these particles into the chalice, saying, "Wash away, O Lord, the sins of all those here commemorated, by Thy Precious Blood, through the prayers of all thy saints." Of this action, Saint Mark of Ephesus says, "We can do nothing better or greater for the dead than to pray for them, offering commemoration for them at the Liturgy. The body feels nothing then: it does not see its close ones who have assembled, does not smell the fragrance of the flowers, does not hear the funeral orations.
Public prayers were only offered for those who were believed to have died as faithful members of the Church.
But Saint Perpetua, who was martyred in 202, believed herself to have been encouraged in a vision to pray for her brother, who had died in his eighth year, almost certainly unbaptized; and a later vision assured her that her prayer was answered and he had been translated from punishment. Augustine thought it needful to point out that the narrative was not canonical Scripture, and contended that the child had perhaps been baptized.
Prayer for the dead is well documented within early Christianity, both among prominent Church Fathers and the Christian community in general.
The majority of these general commemorations fall on the various "Soul Saturdays" throughout the year (mostly during Great Lent).
On these days, in addition to the normal Panikhida, there are special additions to Vespers and Matins, and there will be propers for the departed added to the Divine Liturgy.
In Eastern Orthodoxy Christians pray for "such souls as have departed with faith, but without having had time to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance".
While prayer for the dead continues in both these traditions and in those of Oriental Orthodoxy and of the Assyrian Church of the East, many Protestant groups reject the practice.
An important element in the Christian liturgies both East and West consisted of the diptychs, or lists of names of living and dead commemorated at the Eucharist.