I'm new to praying and i'm still learning how to, and the fact that when i look up prayer times it comes up with ones for that particular date only confuses me. i just want to pray but i dont want to do it incorrectly. Thank you.
Do the prayer times change throughout the month? If so, is it bad to pray too early or late?
Prayer times depend on day times: noon, sunset, sunrise etc. so yes they change within times in almost all places on earth– SassirFeb 12, 2018 at 19:42
Muslim prayer times in fact change every day, although by a small amount (maybe a minute, or less). Over the course of a month, these increments add up. The salah times are described on Wikipedia, and they're based on the position of the sun, which is seasonal. For example, for fajr:
The time period within which the Fajr daily prayer must be offered (with loud recitation of the Qur'an) is from the beginning of dawn to sunrise.
There are many mobile apps and websites that can remind you when to pray (e.g. IslamicFinder). However, it's best to wait a few minutes afterwards, in case they're slightly inaccurate.
Generally, scholars encourage praying punctually (e.g. IslamWeb, MuftiOnline.co.za). And there's ahadith such as the following which suggest this praying punctually is worthwhile, e.g.:
I asked the Prophet "Which deed is the dearest to Allah?" He replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times."
Sahih al-Bukhari 527
Muslims are meant to pray within the alloted times:
And when you have completed the prayer, remember Allah standing, sitting, or [lying] on your sides. But when you become secure, re-establish [regular] prayer. Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.
Praying outside these times goes against this verse, and may result in the prayer not being accepted (but Allah knows best). There's debate over catch-up prayers (qada); see Does a Muslim have to pray all the prayers that he left out?
I'd like to add that the prayer times are quoted in the Qur'an and they are clearly related to special times of the day such as sunrise, sunset, noon etc. see also Does the idea of praying 5 times a day come from the Qur'an? were you may find some quotes from the Qur'an.
Moreover all the times of the five prayers are quoted in the Qur'an in different verses. Some calculation methods for these timings are mentioned in Figuring out right calculation method of prayer time and you should know that each prayer has a specific time (as already mentioned in Rebecca's great answer also read verse 4:103) and one shouldn't delay a prayer or miss to pray it on time without a valid excuse (Somewhat relevant: Can we offer salat before it's time?)
This basically means that you should do your best to pray each prayer between the two limits: Beginning of the time for the actual prayer and the beginning of the time for the next prayer. Ahadith actually recommend praying the prayers at the beginning of the time and not delaying it to until the end. There's however one exception: The preferred time to delay praying 'Isha' till -close to- the first third of the night, based on ahadith like:
Once Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) delayed the 'Isha' prayer till 'Umar informed him that the women and children had slept. The Prophet (ﷺ) came out and said, "None except you from amongst the dwellers of earth is waiting for this prayer." In those days, there was no prayer except in Medina and they used to pray the 'Isha' prayer between the disappearance of the twilight and the first third of the night. (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Scholars added in their interpretation and made a distinction between a time of recommendation/choice وقت الاختيار (waqt al-Ikhtiyaar) and time were praying is necessary وقت الضرورة (waqt ad-Darourah) -note that the definition of both is different between the madhhabs-. For example: if one waits too long (until the time of necessity), one will pray at a time were the call for the next prayer might be too close and risks to miss to pray on time (again here the definition on what counts as prayed on time differ).