It has been my experience that if one wishes to hear the voice of God in their lives, obedience is requisite. I suppose I should qualify that: it is not obedience itself that brings God's voice and direction into our lives, but rather our willful obedience to the "pangs of conscience" that God brings upon us.
I remember a speaker once shared about a speaking engagement he took in Alaska. While there, he was invited by one of his hosts to go sledding. The speaker's host raced in dog sled races across Alaska and was proficient at the sport. After the two had gone out for a short ride and were later relaxing and discussing Alaskan life, the speaker commented to his host,
"Mike, I couldn't help but notice that when you were driving those dogs, you spoke barely above a whisper to command them to go left or right - and they heard you every time. How did you train them to do that?"
The host simply replied, "Jeff, it's because they're doing what they were made to do."
The host knew his dogs had an innate drive to pull that sled as fast and as hard as they could. He knew it was their joy and passion to do the very thing he wanted them to do. They were in tune with their master's voice because his voice made it possible for them to do what they did best more fully. Thus, they were always listening for and anticiapting his next command. Such sensitivity to the master's voice never requires shouting.
When I became a member of the Presbyterian church I was rasied in, I had to learn the Westminster Shorter Chatechism. The first tenet of that Chatechism is, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." I have come to see it as one of the most succintly and efficiently expressed theological treatises on the purpose of mankind ever written. It states what the Bible echoes from the Genesis through Revelation: We are built to glorify and worship God. And when we do what we are built to do, we thoroughly enjoy it.
Experienceing the presence of God in our lives means doing what He has made us to do. All of reality must be interpreted through our ultimate design: to honor and glorify God with our lives. If we are truly doing what we are meant to do, God doesn't need to shout orders or jerk the reigns of our faith to force us to go in a direction we don't want to go. Balanced on the fulcrum of our conscience, God's whispers lever us upward. With the very least whisper, He can send us catapulting into His will for our lives.
I have, in the last few years, found myself experiencing what I would call an "enhanced conscience". That is, a conscience that gives me a greater sensitivity to right and wrong. Yet I've found that when I respond to the pangs of my more sensitive conscience and grieve the sins I commit (no matter how small or unnoticed the sin may be), the result is not self-abasement, but gratitude.
Conviction from God does not leave the Christian with a lesser view of himself but rather a greater understanding of God's character. Thus, by responding to even the smallest tugs of our conscience over matters so slight that the offended would never know they had been wronged, we grow closer to God. We respond with gratitude for the convictions of our consciences, not because God has revealed to us a little bit more the depth of our depravity, but because He has shown us a little bit more the depth of His holiness.
[Pardon the fluffy devotional with zero Scripture references. It's been a tough week.]