Maybe your mind is immediately drawn to the political dimensions of speaking truth to power. Probably that is the first image that we think of in this regard but it is not the primary. Surely it is necessary to have those who can speak unflinchingly before the powerful on behalf of the poor, the hungry, the oppressed, the suffering, etc... But the more profound arena for true prophecy is speaking truth that people have dismissed as falsehood and condemning the lies that pass as truth. This is the shape of Biblical prophecy. People who have grown comfortable doing what is right in their own eyes and who do not wish to hear the truth of God and His Word are the hard nuts to crack.
Ask the prophets of old. The prophets were clearly identified as those who stood outside the streets of fashion, trend, fad, and popular truth.
Jeremiah buried his underwear, dug it up, and put it on again (Jer 13:1-11); John the Baptist let his hair grow, and Ezekiel shaved his head (Ezek 5:1); John wore camel skins, and Isaiah wandered around naked and barefoot for three years (Mt 3:4, Isa 20). Even their eating habits also left something to be desired: Ezekiel ate books (Ezek 3:3) or bread cooked on a fire fueled by human waste (Ezek 4:12); Elijah was fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:1-5); Daniel eschewed all rich food (Dan 1); and John was into the paleo diet (Mt 3:4). Their activities were unpredictable: Jeremiah smashed pottery and pretended to be a dumb animal, wearing a cattle yoke (Jer 19, 27, 28); he remained celibate, whereas Hosea married a notorious prostitute (Jer 16, Hos 1:2); and Ezekiel lay on his side for more than a year, went into trances, and talked to mountains or dead bones (Ezek 3:24; 4:4-6; 6:2; 8:1-3; 35-37).The Biblical prophets were simply counter-cultural as if this were itself a fad or trend. No, they spoke for God and their words carried the most solemn authority Thus saith the Lord. They did not simply tell people off but called people to account, publicly addressed their secret sins, exposed the comfortable lies that covered those sins, and called them to nothing less than full repentance.
Today the churches are more comfortable speaking truth to political power than speaking unpleasant truth to people. We have no shortage of bishop's letters or official church pronouncements on the cause of the poor, the immigrants, the disenfranchised, and a host of other advocacy causes. I am not saying we should not speak where we must but this has become the substitute for speaking truth to the lies that have become cultural icon and polling positions. Abortion, contraception, homosexuality, gender identity, radical feminism, reproductive technology, marriage redefinition, and the like have found not words of prophecy but words of welcome in too many churches -- things that Scripture has spoken clearly against and against which tradition has an unwavering witness. The churches of modernity have too quickly traded in their roles as Biblical prophets to become mere mimics of what is thought or felt or heralded as the latest and greatest cause celebre.
Where are the prophets in our day? Where are the people who will speak truth to the powerful or the weak when they advance lies disguised as truth or positions at odds with the Lord in His Word. I am not saying we need to be hard, calloused, or indifferent to the suffering of people, especially those whose suffering has its source in the acceptance of such falsehoods as truth. What I am saying is that the greatest love of all and the first word of mercy to such people is to speak the truth in love, without diminishing the Word of the Lord and without speaking in smug judgment of those we love to hate. This is Biblical prophecy and these kinds of Biblical prophets are in short supply today. Pray the Lord that He may raise up those whose voices will challenge our pet sins and our favorite falsehoods and bring the truth that saves to bear upon our comfortable lies.