It was formulated by a Russian elder and ascetic, Schema-monk Ilarion, in the early years of the twentieth century. Fr. Ilarion wrote a book on the Jesus prayer, In the Causcasus Mountains, which was published in 1907. He intended to praise the ancient practice of the Jesus prayer -- Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner -- but in describing it, he fell into error. Instead of teaching that God responds to the ascetic labor of the Jesus prayer with His grace, Fr. Ilarion taught that grace proceeded from the very name of Jesus which, according to him, was Jesus Himself.
These heretical teachings were condemned by the Patriarchate of Constantinople under Patriarch Joachim III in 1912 and again under Patriarch German V in 1913. After commissioning three independent reports on imyaslavie, the Holy Synod of Russia also condemned it as a heresy in 1913. Patriarch Gregory of Antioch also condemned imyaslavie as a heresy in 1913.