“ Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ, Υιέ του Θεού, ελέησόν με τον αμαρτωλόν. ”
The prayer's origin is most likely the Egyptian desert, which was settled by the monastic Desert Fathers in the fifth century.
The practice of repeating the prayer continually dates back to at least the fifth century. The earliest known mention is in On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination of St. Diadochos of Photiki (400-ca.486), a work found in the first volume of the Philokalia. The Jesus Prayer is described in Diadochos's work in terms very similar to St. John Cassian's (ca.360-435) description in the Conferences 9 and 10 of the repetitive use of a passage of the Psalms. St. Diadochos ties the practice of the Jesus Prayer to the purification of the soul and teaches that repetition of the prayer produces inner peace.
The use of the Jesus Prayer is recommended in the Ladder of Divine Ascent of St. John Climacus (ca.523–606) and in the work of St. Hesychios the Priest (ca. eighth century), Pros Theodoulon, found in the first volume of the Philokalia.
Though the Jesus Prayer has been practiced through the centuries as part of the Eastern tradition, in the twentieth century it also began to be used in some Western churches, including some Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.