While its tradition, on historical grounds, also belongs to the Eastern Catholics, and there have been a number of Latin Catholic texts on the Jesus Prayer, its practice has never achieved the same popularity in the Latin Church as in the Eastern Orthodox Church, although it can be said on the Anglican rosary. As distinct from the prayer itself, the Eastern Orthodox theology of the Jesus Prayer enunciated in the 14th century by Gregory Palamas was generally rejected by Latin Catholic theologians until the 20th century, but Pope John Paul II called Gregory Palamas a saint, cited him as a great writer, and an authority on theology and spoke with appreciation of Palamas's intent "to emphasize the concrete possibility that man is given to unite himself with the Triune God in the intimacy of his heart". In the Jesus Prayer can be seen the Eastern counterpart of the rosary, which has developed to hold a similar place in the Christian West.
A formula similar to the standard form of the Jesus Prayer is found in a letter attributed to John Chrysostom, who died in AD 407. This "Letter to an Abbot" speaks of "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy" and "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on us" being used as ceaseless prayer. However, some consider this letter dubious or spurious and attribute it to an unknown writer of unknown date.
What may be the earliest explicit reference to the Jesus Prayer in a form that is similar to that used today is in Discourse on Abba Philimon from the Philokalia. Philimon lived around AD 600. The version cited by Philimon is, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me," which is apparently the earliest source to cite this standard version. While the prayer itself was in use by that time, John S. Romanides writes that "We are still searching the Fathers for the term 'Jesus prayer.'"
A similar idea is recommended in the Ladder of Divine Ascent of John Climacus (circa 523–606), who recommends the regular practice of a monologistos, or one-worded "Jesus Prayer". The use of the Jesus Prayer according to the tradition of the Philokalia is the subject of the 19th century anonymous Russian spiritual classic The Way of a Pilgrim, also in the original form, without the addition of the words "a sinner".