The Christian response to this mysterious manner in which God speaks to us is a “still, small voice,” referencing 1 Kings 9 when Elijah sees the first Earth, Wind, and Fire concert ever. Paul also writes in the Roman epistle that the Holy Spirit “groans” on our behalf, directing and guiding us accordingly, which we often mistake for a prompting to open up the fridge.
The Bible reveals several ways that God speaks to us. Surrounding the legendary Ten Commandments, God gives us a nice framework of how He spoke to Israel, and in turn how He might speak to us.
The fire (v. 4) Fire burns, and it’s hot. Those are rather obvious characteristics, but do we perceive God’s words like this? In the case of Israel, he speaks “out of the fire”, rendering what He says untouchable and scalding. What God says should make an impact. It should burn. If it doesn’t burn, it might not be God speaking. It might be delusion, or really bad pizza (which might burn in other ways).
The mountain (v. 4) As you approach the peak of a mountain, your surroundings become more apparent at such great heights. You find yourself more alone, yet more perceptive. If we intend to hear God, we must get to a place (figuratively or quite literally) of solitude with God where we might hear Him without the thickness of life muffling our ability to comprehend it all. Space mountain doesn’t count, even if Disneyland is as far from reality as possible.
A loud voice (v. 22) According to this verse, the Lord proclaimed these commandments to Israel in a “loud voice.” Sometimes I would love for God to scream His instructions across the world, knocking over some statues or buildings in the same manner Jesus flips tables and cracks a whip in the temple. God’s voice speaks through His creation, His believers, and through His Spirit, and the change it brings is tremendous.
To everyone (v. 22) God’s instruction is not exclusive. If you think you’re exempt, you’re in the same delusional boat with the people that think tax evasion is the bee’s knees. You’re going to get caught, whether it’s the natural consequences of bad behavior or the Lord Himself.
In the midst of darkness (v. 23) One of the most confounding mysteries of God is His inherent imperceptibility by human means. We see the evidence everywhere; why doesn’t God show Himself outright? This makes skeptics squirm a little bit, but the reason is very simple: His nature is spectacular. Bombastic. Stunning. If you tried to look at Him in your imperfect condition (being a human and all), it’d fry your eyes immediately. And that’s not fun.
God can speak to us in any way he chooses, really. In the Bible, He uses angels, a donkey, a prostitute, a dead guy, an undead guy, and several huge hallucination trips. If God needs to tell us something, He’ll do it by any means necessary. We just have to listen.