Some people say God speaks to them. I do not doubt that He is able to speak to people in an audible fashion but I am not sure that He speaks to me in this way. If He does I do not hear very well. On the few occasions when I thought I was certain He was speaking things did not work out very well. As a result my confidence in my spiritual hearing is pretty low. Over time I have reached the conclusion that I may be listening for the wrong kind of voice.
While I do not hear God speaking directly to me, especially in an audible sense, that does not mean that I do not believe that God is silent or that I think He does not communicate with His people. His Spirit can speak to us through Scripture or by moving other people to share their thoughts with us. He can also speak quite powerfully to us through our conscience. When God does speak through our conscience He speaks a lot like Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder version, not Johnny Depp).
In the movie Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory a handful of children won the opportunity to tour Wonka’s chocolate factory. At the beginning of the tour the children were instructed on how to behave during the tour. As the children were selfish and bratty they each violated the rules rather quickly. Each time one of the children started to do something forbidden, Willy Wonka spoke and warned them.
Willy’s warnings were never yelled, never hollered. He did not run over to the children to restrain them. He remained where he was and quietly said, “No. Stop.” He voice was audible and recognizable, but it was also easily ignored and overlooked by those who were not inclined to listen. The children didn't listen and soon experienced the consequences of their disobedience.
I have found this to be true of the way God communicates to me through by conscience via the Holy Spirit. When I begin to do something wrong there is often a quiet “voice”, a thought in my head, that gently urges me to stop. When I am dead set in my ways and bad intentions the voice is easily ignored, yet if I train myself to listen for it, to look for it before I act, the warnings can be heard. God loves me enough to warn me, to move me and motivate me through gentle urgings such as these but like Willy Wonka He does not yell, and does not force me to obey.
If I am to stay out of trouble, I need to train myself to listen.